Right where they left off 5/25 Orioles win 6-to-5
Written by Mike Laws
Right where they left off
Another three-run first, more homers from usual suspects just enough in afternoon victory
Orioles 6, Toronto 5
Uh, so, did the Orioles and Blue Jays just keep right on playing after we’d all turned off the TV last night? Were all the players instructed to, like, freeze at the top step of the dugout, and did they stand there motionless till someone came out around 1 p.m. today to yell, “Game on!”? Because as far as this reporter could make out, very little changed between games two and three of this series. Again the Orioles jumped all over the Toronto starter, posting a three-spot before most of the crowd had found their seats; again their own hurler had his issues, and allowed the home team right back in it; again Danny Valencia swatted a two-run homer to provide some separation; again (in fact, for the third straight game) Adam Jones clocked a solo shot to left. And once again, despite something of a bullpen implosion, the offense had supplied enough padding that the Jays just couldn’t claw back even. (Blue Jays have claws, right?)
Oh well, whatever, never mind. On to the bullet points:
- First off, the offense. It’s still there. Clicking. In abundance. Prolific. Et cetera. And, judging by what Oriole hitters did to him today, it’s in no way intimated by that dastardly knuckleball of R.A. Dickey’s. True, Dickey rallied himself following an infield single from Nate McLouth to start things off, walking Nick Markakis in between outs recorded by Manny Machado and Jones, but then Chris Davis roped a 1-0 offering directly down the line to right (off the line itself, in fact) — a would’ve-been two-run double but for the fact it skipped on up into the stands. Dag. But don’t sleep on J.J. Hardy. Still with two away, and now with men on second and third, the Oriole shortstop laced a base-knock of his own into center, picking up both additional runs. Hmm, didn’t Hardy do something remarkably similar yesterday?
- Anyway, the cushion would evaporate — or, I guess, deflate — in the following two Toronto trips to the dish. A shame, too, because Freddy Garcia had done so well to get ahead of Edwin Encarnacion, eventually grounding him into a double play that appeared, for the moment, to have quelled the threat represented by the back-to-back Blue Jay singles with which Garcia had started his afternoon of work. Garcia got ahead of Adam Lind, too, with two down and a man on third, but wound up giving in, offering a tasty fastball the Toronto first baseman could smack into left, plating a run. And while the Oriole righty got a nice, quick out to begin his second frame, Emilio Bonifacio, of all people, got extended on a 2-1 pitch, yanking it out of the Rogers Centre to right. 3-2 …
- But here’s where Valencia comes in, drilling a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left — and picking up Hardy, who’d hit his own two-out ground-rule double. Gotta love that two-out production, eh? This swelled the margin back to three, 5-2. It also appeared to soothe whatever nerves Garcia had working against him; the Baltimore starter wouldn’t exactly cruise through his next two innings — he allowed a pair of two-out singles in the third, then needed some slick defensive work from McLouth, in left, to finally turn in a one-two-three frame (does anyone even remember the last time this happened, for an Oriole pitcher?). Even so, Garcia faced some hard luck in the fifth, in permitting a third Blue Jay run: With two on and two out, he got off the mound in plenty of time to field and throw a Brett Lawrie swinging-bunt down the first-base line — trouble was, Lawrie went hustling down the inside of the line, which gave Garcia basically nowhere to flip his throw except right into Lawrie. Which wasn’t ruled properly, and rather than an out was called an error on Garcia himself, and allowed Jose Bautista to trot on in, cutting the deficit to two, 5-3. Worse, Lawrie then stole second, setting up a potentially disastrous second-and-third situation; a base hit would likely tie the game. And Colby Rasmus almost delivered, but for a nice stop on his rocket bouncer over at first by Davis, who flipped to Garcia, who had now thrown a hundred and three pitches, and whose afternoon was thus at an end.
- That Garcia would remain in line for the win comes down, largely, to Jones’s solo homer — an absolute blast off the third-deck facing in left; thing must’ve exited the park in like point-eight seconds; the fans in the second deck were actually visibly afraid — and to the work of Steve Johnson, back again with the big club, who as I see it should probably never have been put in a position where he could give up any runs. After another of those rare one-two-three innings (the sixth), and after allowing a one-out Bautista double in the seventh — from which he’d rebound to retire the side with relative ease — Johnson was two-thirds of the way through his third inning of relief — he’d surrendered another double, this one a leadoff job from Lawrie, before striking out Rasmus (looking) and Bonifacio (swinging) — when he got squeezed, on two separate deliveries to Maicer Izturis, by home-plate ump Wally Bell. What should’ve been another strikeout to complete the trifecta instead became a walk; and of course what followed was light-hitting No. 9 man Munenori Kawasaki singling Lawrie in, cutting the lead to 6-4. OK, no problem, on to Darren O’Day — except O’Day immediately coughed up another single, this time Melky Cabrera’s, which brought the Jays to within one, the tie run a scant ninety feet away, with the imposing Bautista striding to the dish. Whew. Nervous moments, I’ll tell ya. And O’Day didn’t do O’s fans’ blood pressure any favors when he missed the plate with his first two offerings to the Toronto slugger. Still, he’d come back with a called strike before, thankfully, inducing a grounder to short, finally ending the frame, the lead still intact.
And if the sight of Jim Johnson emerging from the bullpen to try and preserve this narrowest of margins gave you the howling fantods, you probably weren’t alone — but you also needn’t have worried. Johnson’s biggest struggle on the day came in trying to put the pesky Encarnacion away; the Toronto DH fouled off something like twelve straight pitches (OK, it was three) before grounding out harmlessly to third. Lind saw only two Johnson offerings before lining out, also to third. And Lawrie — surely to his chagrin, given his little tantrum yesterday — struck out looking, meaning this one was in the books, Garcia with the win, S. Johnson and O’Day credited with holds, Jim Johnson with the save. And all is right again in Birdland.
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