Like A Bad Hangover
Written by Mike Laws
Like a bad hangover
Bad juju carries over into Sunday for lifeless Birds
Boston 5, Orioles 0
Frustrated yet? In case we needed it underlined again, Sunday’s matinee rubber game with the Red Sox at Camden Yards provided confirmation of an alarming recent trend: in a nutshell, the Orioles threatening and fizzling, over and over …
But let’s just get right to the bullet points:
- Right: There was the home team’s first trip to the plate, when Nick Markakis found himself in scoring position with fewer than two down. But: nope. Strikeout of Chris Davis. Strikeout of Adam Jones. And Jon Lester’s back to looking … well, Lesterian, against the Birds.
- The southpaw then reeled off a quick (and I mean quick: six pitches and then nine, respectively) second and third, but again found himself in something of a jam in the fourth, when, after Manny Machado again grounded out and Davis again struck out, Jones singled and Matt Wieters walked. But: uh-uh, still no. J.J. Hardy popped up just to the lee side of first, and again Lester had gotten himself off the hook.
- I can keep going, here. (In fact it’s kinda fun to see how many bullet points one can wring out of a single topic.) The Orioles’ fifth turn at the dish, pretty much a facsimile of the fourth, saw the team again mount a little two-out mini-rally (this time it was Taylor Teagarden singling into left-center, and Markakis drawing a walk) before Machado lined a 3-1 offering directly at shortstop Stephen Drew. The sixth provided an even better opportunity, when Davis reached on a throwing error from Dustin Pedroia and Jones dinked a single into the Bermuda Triangle down the right-field line — but, well, first and second is still the best the Birds could do; Wieters chased a rising fastball on 3-2, and Hardy grounded his payoff pitch into a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play. Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Tragically, and despite what seemed all odds, this was a game that, had they been able to convert on some of those baserunners, the Orioles might’ve had a shot at. Because another trend that held here today was Jason Hammel and his almost mirific powers with respect to slipping out of trouble. In the first the big right-hander flirted with immediate disaster; following a one-out walk, it took a spectacular running catch from Jones, crashing into the Southwest banner at the end of his half-leap, to hold the Sox at least momentarily at bay. They did manage a subsequent single (David “El Gran Llorón” Ortiz) and a Mike Napoli double that probably would’ve plated more than just the one run if Ortiz weren’t so, you know, hefty — but Hammel collected himself and went on to strand the runners at second and third via three-pitch swinging K of Mike Carp.
- Hammel looked a whole lot better in a one-two-three second, and had appeared to navigate his way around a one-out single in the third when Ortiz came through with two away for the game’s pivotal play. The baseball gods having apparently decided that last night’s ejection was sufficient, with regard to punishment meted out for Ortiz’s embarrassing tantrum, the big DH (who’d go 4-for-4 on the afternoon) lifted a Hammel fastball out to left — might not have looked all that well-hit off the bat, but here was the kind of home run Davis has (had?) been stroking all season long: a fly ball the other way that just kinda never comes down. This one settled into the third or fourth row of seating out in left-center, and all of a sudden the Sox led 3-0.
- Which, though more than they’d need, was also all they’d get, off Hammel, who went another two and two-thirds nerve-racking frames, putting men on first and second with just one away in the fourth, and issuing a pair of walks in addition to a single in the fifth, but somehow avoiding any and all further damage (Teagarden’s relay to second to catch Shane Victorino attempting to steal didn’t hurt, as nor did a double-play ball off the bat of Napoli). And when in the sixth Hammel coughed up a one-out double and had to exit, T.J. McFarland did commendable work in relief, immediately finding the exit by way of a line-out double play, after which he’d toss a fine seventh …
- Ah, but not such a fine eighth. The lefty long man watched as Ortiz slapped a one-out single and Napoli hooked a subsequent double directly down the left-field line; he was then asked to walk pinch hitter(/“American History X” extra) Jonny Gomes. Which is when Jarrod Saltalamacchia inside-outed the first offering he saw from McFarland into the 3/4 hole, good for two more runs, making it 5-0. T.J. would go on to fan Drew and induce a comebacker from Jose Iglesias, but the damage had been done, and then some.
- And if the Orioles weren’t gonna make much of an effort to get back into it, at least the rest of the game went quickly. Get this Band-Aid off quick. Sox reliever Matt Thornton faced just the three batters, in the eighth. Likewise for Tommy Hunter, in the Boston ninth. Ol’ Pedro Beato came on for a one-two-three bottom half. Enjoy the off day, folks. It probably couldn’t be coming at a better time, psychically speaking. I daresay the O’s really, really need to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and take the opportunity to beat up on Houston …
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