Written by Tony Pente
Davis and Pearce lead the Orioles to a 7-4 win over the Rays
Chris Davis hit a grand slam off the bottom of the fair pole and Steve Pearce hit a two-run homer as the Orioles clubbed their way to a 7-5 win over the Rays in Tampa. Miguel Gonzalez picked the win despite allowing four runs over five innings of work. The Orioles bullpen allowed just one run over four innings with Zach Britton picking up his 8th save.
- Miguel Gonzalez took the mound for the first time since coming off the disabled list. He was a little rusty in the 1st inning needing 21 pitches to get out of the inning while stranding runners on 1st and 2nd. After getting a 5-0 lead in the 3rd, he allowed back to back home runs to cut the lead to 5-2. By the 5th inning, he was grooving pitches in the middle of the plate again and Tampa came roaring back to make it 5-4 before Gonzalez was able to get out of the 5th. Final line, 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB and 5K. Not a great start for Gonzo in his return.
- Ryan Webb came on and threw an inning and two-thirds of hitless relief before Brian Matusz came on to strike out left-handed hitting James Looney to finish off the 7th. Matusz came back out to start the 8th but after getting ahead of Ben Zobrist 0-2, Zobrist doubled on a fastball. Right-handed hitters are batting .448 with a .828 SLG against Matusz’s fastball this season. They are 2-for-29 against all of his other pitches . Moral of the story, Matusz needs to be a junkballer to right-handers.
- Darren O’Day came in to face pinch-hitting Logan Forsyth and after a ten pitch at bat, Forsyth collected an infield hit. O’day then got Yunel Escobar to fly out to right field for a sac fly cutting the lead to 7-5. Joe Madden brought up another pinch hitter in left-hander Kevin Kiermaier who did his job and sharply singled to right field to put runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. O’day then settled down and retired the next two hitters to keep it 7-5.
- Zach Britton got three ground ball outs in the 9th for his 8th save of the season. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 28th and has five straight saves and 8 of 9 on the season.
- After striking out in his first at bat, Chris Davis swung through two 88-mph fastballs before hitting a grand slam off the left field foul pole. Davis now has three home runs in his last six games. According to ESPNstats, at 319 ft, it was the shortest home run over the fence in MLB this year so far (thanks to Birdland for posting this in the game thread).
- With his average at .119 on the season, Caleb Joseph took a two strike outside pitch and drove it to the right field fence for a double to lead off the 7th. After Markakis popped up on the first pitch, Steve Pearce hit a two-run home run to make it 7-4.
- Nelson Cruz went 0-for-4 and has not hit a home run since June 3rd.
- In the 2nd inning with no outs, Manny Machado backhanded a ball that was heading into the corner, then fired over to Jonathan Schoop who made a jump throw to first to complete a nifty 5-4-3 double play. He showed off his gun in the 4th inning when he threw out a runner from deep third on a Baltimore chop. Not many third baseman make that play look so routine. In the 9th, he made a nice play coming in on a ball before firing a strike on the run to Davis at first. Sometimes Manny's defense is worth the price of admission.
- While chasing Chris Davis’ grand slam, David DeJesus ran into the wall in left field like he didn’t see it coming. He was stunned but uninjured and laughed it off.
- Caleb Joseph had a passed ball on a Gonzalez curveball in the 5th to move the runner to third. Not intimidated in the least bit, Joseph calls for a split-finger and then the same curveball for a strike out to end the inning. Not every rookie catcher makes those calls with a runner on third that he put there with a mistake. Veteran work there.
Key Moments in game:
- With the bases loaded in the 3rd inning in a 0-0 tie. Bedard threw a wild pitch that allowed Jonathan Schoop to score the Orioles first run of the game. In typical tin man fashion, Bedard then hit Adam Jones to load the bases before giving up a grand slam to Chris Davis to put the O’s up 5-0. It took him 44 pitches to get through the 3rd inning.
- After putting runners on first and second and allowing Matusz’s inherited runner to score in the 8th inning, O’day struck out Sean Rodriguez and got Desmond Jennings to fly out to center to keep it 7-5.
Observations and musings
- Former Oriole Erik Bedard started for the Rays. The 35-year old lefty topped out at 88 MPH, but mainly threw in the 84-86 MPH range in the first inning. He settled in around 87-88. He was 91-95 MPH with the Orioles when he was traded to Seattle for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and two others.
- Hangout poster “MrOrange82” pointed out in game thread during the first inning after Chris Davis swung through a 81 mph fastball, “His swing/miss percentage on fastballs this year is 31.0%, despite a very good 78% swing percentage on fastballs in the strike zone. His swing is clearly messed up, because he's missing an absolute ton of hittable fastballs.” In the 3rd inning with the bases juiced and one out, he swung through two 88 MPH fastballs before launching a grand slam home run off the left field fair pole.
- Sean Rodriguez hit a home run so far that I believe it had a very small flight attendant aboard.
- Buck challenged a call in the 5th inning that seemed to be a waste of a challenge. Unless it’s obvious the call was wrong, the call will not be reversed. I don’t know who the Orioles' video guy is but he doesn’t seem to have a good feel for using that challenge.
- BTW, if you are ever bored while watching the game, consider this to spice up the game. The Jim Hunter drinking game: Take a drink every time Jim Hunter says, "a real good take there". Bonus shot for every time he says it on a ball that misses the plate by a foot or more.
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