Written by Bruce Smith (vatech1994)
Labor Day saw the Orioles traveling to the Jake to face the Indians in the first game of a series critical for two teams trying to climb into the 2nd Wild Card spot. I know the name has changed, but I’m still gonna call it the Jake. Progressive Field has zero cache, although I do like their “I’ll Stand By You” commercial.
The pitching match-up didn’t seem particularly favorable for the Orioles with Bud Norris facing Justin Masterson. The Orioles have handled Masterson pretty well historically, but there has been a bit of smoke, mirrors, and luck in a couple of the wins. The general board consensus was wariness at having to face such a tough pitcher in an important game to kick off a do-or-die series.
It was a strange game. Masterson left in the 2nd inning with soreness in his rib cage. Markakis missed second base and was called out on an appeal. McLouth had a double become a fielder’s choice (on the same play). The Indians Michael Brantley got picked off 2nd base to end an inning while the Indians trailed 3-0. The Indians used eight pitchers and many of them were wild. The Orioles walked 6 times yet Manny Machado saw 11 pitches in 5 at bats and 6 of them came in his 4th at bat.
The Orioles won the game 7-2 and got an important series off on the right foot.
Bud Norris pitched well for the Orioles today despite 8 batters in the Cleveland line up facing him from the left side. He kept his fastball on their hands, threw his slider under their hands, was able to throw the fastball at the knees on the outside corner, and actually showed a decent curveball and change-up on occasion. He dominated the Indians through six innings giving up just two hits and both of them were just well placed rather than particularly hard hit. Bud had to sit for a long time in the top of the 7th and it was pretty obvious when the bottom of the inning rolled around that, despite a low pitch count, the extended break cost him some crispness and location. He got through the 7th giving up only one run and Buck decided that was enough.
Bud’s final line was 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 8 K, and the win. Overall it was Bud’s best outing since coming over in a trade in July.
Tommy Hunter worked the 8th. He gave up a run on a lead-off homer from Lonnie Chisenhall that went right down the line. It was a curveball that Chisenhall managed to center, but it wasn’t a particularly bad pitch. He got the next three hitters in order and threw one of the best change ups I’ve seen from him this season to strike out Jason Kubel.
Brian Matusz worked the 9th once the Orioles extended the lead to 5 in the top of the 9th. I’m sure it annoyed several board members to no end to see JJ sit down when Wieters hit the homer to end the save situation. Matusz continued to pitch well getting two strike outs while giving up one hit.
Matt Wieters and Nate McLouth had HUGE days for the Orioles. Wieters ended up 4-5 with a long, opposite field two run homer in the 9th. It appears that Matt is heading for another good September which would be a boon for the offense.
McLouth lost a double on the Markakis baserunning gaffe and still had a helluva day. He hit a long two run homer off a lefty to make the score 5-0 and had a sharp single.
Nobody else had more than one hit, but the Orioles ended up with 11 hits overall in a strong effort. While it may get lost in the box score, Casilla and Roberts had several really good at bats where they worked the pitchers for a lot of pitches. I really liked that combination at 9/1 in the order today.
It was a clean defensive game as neither side made an error. There was only a couple of tough defensive plays and the Orioles benefitted from both. Bourn didn’t get to a ball in center that became McLouth’s double / fielder’s choice that I thought was up in the air long enough to be caught. It resulted in the first Orioles’ run. Davis made a nice play to end the threat in the 7th.
Key Moments In The Game
I hate to say it, but Masterson coming out of the game was probably the biggest thing that happened today. Obviously, Cleveland’s bullpen for 8 innings is a much less daunting challenge than a healthy Masterson.
Casilla walked with two outs and Roberts hit a double to increase the lead from 1-0 to 3-0 after the Markakis baserunning mistake. That mistake threatened to leave a bad taste in the collective mouths in the Orioles’ dugout, but getting these two runs made it much easier to take. The McLouth and Wieters homers were also big.
How does Markakis miss a base and neither TV crews got it on camera? I don’t know either, but neither feed showed a replay. Since Buck didn’t lose him mind, I can only assume they got this call right but it appears that nobody will ever know for sure.
Mike Wright was called up to AAA for the last game of the season. Norfolk had to win to make the play-offs. Wright pitched well, but the Tides lost the game 1-0 in 10 innings. Good season for the Norfolk Tides.
After the Tides loss, media outlets reported that Urrutia, Schoop, and Stinson will be the joining the Orioles tomorrow. Zach Britton arrived today. Flaherty will also join the club after Frederick’s last game. Another group of Orioles is going to the instructional league to stay ready in case they are needed.
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