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  • May

    No 'Minnesota nice' here - Orioles fall 8-to-5

    Written by Mike Laws

    No ‘Minnesota nice’ here

    S. Johnson roughed up in 2013 debut

    Orioles 5, Minnesota 8

    Dang. And just when I was thinking how this recap was practically gonna write itself (I even already had a headline in mind: “Moar doubles!!1!”) Shoulda remembered: Baseball’s a flighty, fickle, unpredictable thing, and it’s when you’re sitting there grinning dumbly as winless Vance Worley, on his way to another glorified-batting-practice-level outing, and Steve Johnson, looking primed to continue on in the fine tradition of Johnson-family debuts … well, that’s when Ye Olde American Pastime, rapscallion it can be, gets its jollies from pulling the rug right out from under you.


    Sigh. Do we have to? Oh, all right. Resignedly, on to the bullet points:


    • So like I was saying, it all looked pretty rosy out of the chute. Nate McLouth grounded out to lead things off, but then the O’s jumped all over a supremely hittable-looking Worley: Manny Machado shot a double into the gap in deep right, Nick Markakis punched an RBI single back through the box, Adam Jones ripped a two-bagger of his own down the left-field line, and Chris Davis, in a hole at 0-2, muscled a run-scoring single into shallow left. To bring us up to speed, that’s 2-0 Orioles, runners on the corners, only one out, and Worley’s delivered just fourteen meaty pitches so far, two of which got clobbered to the outfield walls. It was as if last night never ended. You could practically hear Target Field groaning in unison. And on Worley’s nineteenth offering of the inning, it got even worse for the home fans, with Matt Wieters lifting a fly far enough into left to deliver Jones — but hold on. Signs of trouble emerge; omens portending doom. For Davis, attempting to tag and advance to second, gets gunned down (just after Jones had crossed, by the way), and the big inning is halted, dead in its tracks (literally) … 


    • But, like, whatever. Still 3-0, and it looks as though the offense has shown up ready to rip ‘n’ run. Plus, Johnson seems fine in his first inning of work, allowing a Joe Mauer single — which, he’ll do that — but otherwise holding the Twinkies at bay, throwing lots of strikes and mixing speeds well; witness the 66 mph benders he deploys to baffle Ryan (“The Darkness”) Doumit. All the same, if you were looking for more of those ominous signs (and being a decidedly negative Nancy, at this point in the proceedings), you could point to how badly Johnson had missed Wieters’s target, even on a couple strikes (including the inside fastball, meant to hit the outside corner, on which he caught Justin Morneau looking to end the frame). Johnson would go on to work a fine second, much like his first, issuing a one-out walk and, later, a wild pitch, but stranding that runner at second to retire the side …


    • While in the meantime, Worley had somehow settled in, needing just ten pitches to set the O’s down in order in the second, then allowing an infield single off the bat of Markakis, but nothing else, in the Baltimore third. That set the stage for, yes, even more doubles — this time from the home team. Eduardo Escobar greeted Johnson with a gapper to lead off the third; Mauer would eventually double Escobar in, and would himself cross on Morneau’s two-out RBI single. 3-2, now …


    • … but we all know how the Birds react when sensing danger. With one down in the Oriole fourth, Wieters sliced a 2-2 pitch all the way over the left-field wall — 4-2 — and J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty followed up with singles. All right, got somethin’ cookin’, it looks like … except no. Both Nolan Reimold and McLouth popped out to short, and the O’s had to settle for just the one insurance marker.


    • The margin wouldn’t hold up for very long, as Johnson, dealing to Minnesota the second/third time through the order, melted down in the fourth. And tragically, most of the damage came with two away; after an infield single beat out by Chris Parmelee to kick things off, Johnson rallied for a quick pair of fly-ball outs, then walked Escobar and, with the count full, hung an off-speed pitch to pesky Brian Dozier, who drilled (yes) another double into left, bringing both runners around and tying the ballgame at 4. And still the Twins weren’t done. Johnson was asked to walk Mauer intentionally, then walked Doumit, too (unintentionally, obviously), loading the bases. Johnson then promptly surrendered a slapped single to a first-ball-hitting Morneau, good for two more runs. 6-4, Minny. Johnson would retire Trevor Plouffe on a fielder’s choice to short to end the big inning, but the damage had been done, and the young righty’s night was at an end.


    • And the Oriole offense, though it would load the bases against Worley in the fifth — a single, an error, an intentional walk of Wieters — went quietly in that frame after Hardy flied out to deep right (which sure looked like a double off the bat, but sadly hung up in the Midwestern sky just a beat too long, and was tracked down by Parmelee). They’d do a bit better in the sixth, following an efficient half-inning from Troy Patton — but even here they missed a chance to do some more damage, after Flaherty got plunked (on an 0-2 pitch from Worley) and Reimold singled and Machado lined a single into center to plate a run, bouncing Worley from the ballgame with the score 6-5. On in relief with one down and men at first and second, Brian Duensing needed just two pitches to ground Markakis into an easy, inning-ending double play …


    • After which, taking a page out of the Baltimore playbook, the Minnesota offense padded its lead. Hard luck for Patton here, too; the lefty had walked leadoff man Escobar (again) but grounded Dozier into a 1-6-3 Twin-killing (ha!), and gotten ahead of Mauer, before Mauer laced another of his infernal singles into left, keeping things alive for Doumit, who fell behind 1-and-2 before summoning the spirit of Lucifer and crushing the next Patton offering into the second deck in left. 8-5 …


    • And if you were still hoping for a comeback, after that, it wasn’t in the cards. Duensing and Casey Fien worked two more largely silent frames, conceding only a single, to Wieters, in the seventh, with closer Jared Burton picking up right where those two had left off, setting the side down without incident in the ninth.



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