Second Winning Season
Written by Lee Tackett
Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty went a combined 4-5 with 6 runs scored, 3 home runs, and five RBIs as the O's overcame a short Bud Norris start to take down the Blue Jays 9-5.
Bud Norris was inefficient during his final outing of the season, throwing 96 pitches in just four innings. In the first, Norris gave up a one out double to Munenori Kawasaki, and a two out walk to Adam Lind, but got Rajai Davis to ground out to end the inning. Norris looked to be out of a two on one out spot in the second, but Jose Reyes cued a jam shot into left field that scored Josh Thole to put the Jays up 1-0. Issues with command persisted for Norris in the third. Brett Lawrie drew a lead off walk and stole second before back to back strike outs and Anthony Gose hit a two out triple to the right center gap to drive in Lawrie. Thole then plated Gose with a flare to left field to extend the lead to 3-0.
Norris made things interesting in the fourth, as he threw away a pick off to put a runner on third with two out, but coaxed a fly out to deliver a shut down inning after the offense scored runs. Norris really labored through his outing and didn't get any help from the baseball gods when a few weakly hit balls found holes. The start will likely leave a sour taste in Norris's mouth the close his season but hopefully he was able to gain some valuable takeaways from his first playoff chase.
Final Line: 4 IP 7 H 3 R 3 ER 2 BB 5 K
T.J. McFarland relieved Norris in the fifth and was greeted by a single from Lind. Davis reached on an error by J.J. Hardy deep in the hole at short. Three batters later McFarland allowed a single to Ryan Goins that loaded the bases, but got Kevin Pillar to line out to end the inning. The sixth began with a lead off walk to Reyes, then McFarland flubbed a bunt from Kawasaki in which Reyes went first to third.
Josh Stinson entered with runners on the corners and hit Lawrie to load the bases, but got Lind to ground into a double play then struck out Davis to only allow one run to score.
Troy Patton surrendered a Thole double sandwiched between two outs. Jason Hammel came in to face Pillar and got him to pop up to strand Thole. Hammel worked himself into a two on, none out jam in the eighth, but got a pop up and two strike outs to get away clean. Hammel returned for the ninth and gave up an RBI double to Pillar but closed out the game for a 9-5 win.
Welcome to the Big Leagues Jonathan Scoop. In his major league debut, the Orioles prospect ripped a single back through the middle in his first at bat in the third. Not to be outdone in the audition for 2014 second baseman, Ryan Flaherty blasted a fastball onto Eutaw Street for a 2 run home run.
Steve Pearce jumped on a hanging breaking ball for a solo home run to tie the game at 3 in the fourth. Jason Pridie and Steve Clevenger hit back to back singles, but Schoopgrounded into a double play to end the rally.
Flaherty was hit by Esmil Rogers to start the fifth and moved to second on a Nate McLouth ground out. Hardy singled to center to advance Flaherty to third and Nick Markakis bled a single through the right side to give the Orioles the lead. The Jays brought in Aaron Loup to face Chris Davis and Davis drove a ball to deep center for a ground rule double that drove in Hardy. Pearce was walked intentionally to load the bases and Pridie earned his first RBI of the year with a slow ground out to first to put the Birds up 6-3.
Schoop took care of another superlative in the sixth, putting a Kyle Drabek fastball deep into the seats in center field for his first Oriole home run to put the lead back to 3 at 7-4 in the sixth.
Schoop walked to start the 8th and Flaherty strolled to the plate humming "Anything Schoop* can do I can do better" then smoked his second home run of the game into the left field seats for a 9-4 lead.
*For the purposes of that well crafted joke, pretend that Schoop pronounces his name like it's spelled.
-Ryan Flaherty, getting the start at third base, made a nice play to end the first inning, ranging to his backhand side and getting his feet under him for the throw. Not to be out done, Steve Pearce deftly dug out a difficult in between hop to compete the play.
-Even non-pitching plays were a struggle for Norris. In the fourth, he threw away a pick off move that allowed Kawasaki to go first to third.
-On Thole's double in the seventh, Pridie got a good break on the ball but was playing an incredibly shallow center field and the ball landed just beyond his dive. With the lead, late in the game, his positioning was confusing.
The Orioles pitching staff was on the ropes in the sixth inning. After the offense came up with a 3 run fifth, Stinson entered with two on and none out and got out of the inning allowing just one run across.
Observations and Musings
-If reports early in the day from MASN regarding Norris's elbow were correct, there is no reason why he should have made the start today. The team is out of playoff contention so there is no reason to push a guy who is not full strength and also expected to be a part of this roster for a few more years.
-Very fun night for two of the Orioles candidates for the 2014 second base job. At least for a night, both Schoop and Flaherty showed a glimpse into the top end of their respective potentials.
-FREE MIKE BELFIORE
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