Written by Lee Tackett
The Orioles rode a seven run third inning to an 8-4 win over the Rockies. Bud Norris was unspectacular in his 5.2 innings but picked up his ninth win of the season. Manny Machado went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs and Adam Jones added three hits.
You could hear the collective groan from the Camden faithful when Bud Norris waked Dexter Fowler to begin the game then surrender a single to Corey Dickerson. However, like his last start and most of tonight’s outing, Norris did well to limit the damage. He coaxed a double play ball from Troy Tulowitzki that scored Fowler and allowed two more runners to reach before getting out of the inning, keeping the deficit at 1-0.
Norris settled down after a rocky first and retired the next five before Troy Tulowitzki doubled off the center field wall. Michael Cuddyer followed with a base hit to right field, but Nick Markakis came up with it quickly and held Tulowitzki to third. Norris hunkered down and blew a fastball past Wilin Rosario for his fourth punch out of the night to get out of the inning.
Unfortunately after the big bottom of the third, Norris was unable to respond with a zero. He retired the first two hitters of the fourth, but hit Charlie Blackmon and walked Jonathan Herrera to give the Rockies life. Fowler cashed in a run with an RBI single up the middle to cut the deficit to 8-2. Again, Norris used a strike out, this time of Dickerson, to get out of the inning with limited damage.
Norris got through the fifth unscathed but would not make it out of the sixth. With one out, Nolan Arenado tripled over Adam Jones’ head to center and scored on a Blackmon ground out. It appeared Norris was poised to escape further damage again, but with two outs he gave up back-to-back singles by Herrera and Folwer to end his evening. Norris struck out five, walked three, allowed four earned, and scattered nine hits.
Troy Patton was brought in to retire the lefty Dickerson and walked him. Showalter was quickly out of the dugout and Patton’s night was done.
Josh Stinson struck out Tulowitzki to get out of the sixth and worked a scoreless seventh, allowing one hit.
Brian Matusz made things interesting by allowing a one out double to Herrera, but struck out Fowler and Dickerson to get out of his frame.
In the ninth with an 8-4 lead, Tommy Hunter put up a zero, but like Matusz, put Orioles fans on alert when he surrendered a one out double.
Nate McLouth worked a walk to leadoff the game and went first to third on a Manny Machado bouncer up the middle. McLouth came home in the next at bat when Chris Davis hit routine fly ball to left field. Nate showed no hesitation in breaking from third and Dickerson’s throw was well up the line.
The Birds woes with runners in scoring position on continued in the second. With one out Steve Pearce, Ryan Flaherty, and Brian Roberts all reached base but were stranded after a McLouth strike out and a Machado pop up.
The Orioles hit pay dirt in the third inning, started by their MVP. Davis led off the third with a hustle double to the left center gap and advanced to third on a cross up that got away from the catcher Rosario. The next pitch Jones hit a chopper to third baseman Nolan Arenado. Davis broke back to the bag and basically ran a screen on Arenado, whose momentum had taken him into foul territory, behind the hulking Davis. Arenado bobbled the ball and Jones beat the throw.
With runners on the corners Markakis blooped a ball towards the line in left field line. Dickerson dove and had the ball in his glove but lost it as he rolled over and Davis was able to score. Following a ground out, Steve Pearce hit a seemingly routine ground ball to the gold glove shortstop Tulowitzki, but it went under Tulo’s glove and Jones scored. Roberts came up with Markakis and Pearce on the corners and ripped a two out double off the scoreboard to put the Birds ahead 5-1.
The Orioles weren’t quite through with Rockies starter Chad Bettis. McLouth drew a walk and Machado drove in two with his 43rd double of the season. Adam Ottavino came on to stop the bleeding but walked Davis and gave up another single to Jones to plate the Orioles seventh run of the inning. The Orioles faithful have been waiting for a big inning since last week in San Francisco and two out hitting got the job done in the third.
Jones showed poor awareness on the Arenado triple in the sixth. He broke back on the ball like he had a play, but pulled up too late to play the ball off the wall. He was caught in a position where he was either going full speed into the wall (not ideal) or do what he did and hope the ball caromed right to him. This shouldn’t happen from an above average centerfielder in his home ballpark.
Flaherty made a horrendous relay throw after the Fowler single in the sixth. He was positioned correctly for a cut to the plate, right at the edge of the dirt, but tried to throw on the move and got nothing on it. A good throw gets Herrera by five feet.
The Roberts double gave the Orioles the kind of breathing room they haven’t had in what seemed like forever. Although this game still managed to feel close throughout, the doubles from Machado and Roberts were the difference tonight.
Observations and Musings
-Anyone still complaining that Roberts is in the lineup? It took a while, but he is having good at bats and barreling balls all over the field.
-I almost felt bad for Arenado in the third. His facial expression when he looked up after the initial bobble and saw Davis standing between him and his throwing lane, he knew there was no play.
-Norris’s start served as a microcosm for many criticisms of the Orioles rotation. With an 8-1 lead, it was reasonable to expect for Norris to get deep into the game and eat innings for a bullpen that has been in high leverage situations since basically June. Like his last start, Norris was fortunate to scatter just four runs. It’s easy for a starter to go seven when they’re in a close game with the adrenaline pumping, but it’s equally as important for a starter to save the rest of his staff during games that seem in hand.
-Speaking of saving the pen, I have no idea why Buck didn’t extend Stinson tonight. If the manager doesn’t trust a pitcher with a four run lead, he shouldn’t be on the roster. In all likelihood, Stinson will be sent down within the week when Betemit is finished with his rehab assignment, so why not get as much work out of him as possible?
-Man it felt good to score runs, good effort from the crowd tonight as well.
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