Written by Bruce Smith (VaTech1994)
The Orioles and Red Sox opened a four game series in Fenway park on a cold, cold night where much of the time neither team appeared to be having much fun. The Orioles prevailed 8-4 as the hitting continued its recent surge. The win put the Orioles over .500 at 8-7 for the first time since the first game of the year. It also extended the current win streak to three games. It was a long game coming in at 3:34 minutes which I’m sure didn’t thrill either side since it was 40 degrees at game time and fell into the mid-30s as the night wore on. In the end the good guys won so I’m sure nobody with a bird on their hat really minded that it was less than ideal baseball weather.
Chris Tillman started for the Orioles or rather labored like a bricklayer working in 100 degree heat. He consistently fell behind hitter after hitter, but managed to hold it together enough to give the Orioles a shot to win the game. On a night this cold, it would have been surprising to see Chris have control of his curveball, a pitch that requires tremendous feel. Alas, there was no surprise in store for Chris or Orioles’ fans as he basically shelved the pitch by the third inning due to a lack of control. Chris did show an above average change up throughout the outing. From my perspective, Wieters and Tillman didn’t use the pitch enough. Several times Chris gave up hits late in counts where I felt the hitter was set up for the change up. Chris just managed to get through 5 innings and gave up 7 hits, 3 runs, 3 earned runs, 4 walk, and 5 strike outs. It wasn’t his best outing, but he gutted his way through it and finished strong with an important strike out on pitch 122 to end a Boston rally that threatened to prevent him from getting the win.
Brian Matusz relieved Tillman in the 6th. He was asked to pitch in an extended role tonight and was able to keep the Red Sox at bay despite a couple ringing shots off the green monster. The Orioles were trying to avoid using a lot of relievers to cover the last four innings so Matusz getting through almost three innings was important. Matusz pitched 2.2 innings and gave up 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks, and 2 strike outs.
Darren O’Day got the last out in the 8th inning on just 4 pitches. Once the Orioles scored in the top of the 9th to make it 8-4, O’Day continued in the bottom of the 9th. He recorded the last four outs and picked up his first save of the year.
The Orioles hit well as a team tonight pounding out 15 hits. Jonathan Schoop had the best night on the team as he collected his first four hit game of his young career. His most important hits were the two-out doubles in the seventh and ninth innings that plated the 7th and 8th runs for the Orioles.
Nick Markakis started the game with a ringing double off the left field line and hit another ringing double in the right field corner. His hardest shot of the night was actually caught by the right fielder in his third at bat. Nick looked comfortable at the plate and showed a quicker bat tonight than I’ve seen so far this year. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Adam Jones picked up another RBI on an infield hit and stole a base.
Nelson Cruz had an important two-out, two-run single to drive home the third and fourth runs of the game.
Defensive Highlights / Lowlights
David Lough made another outstanding play throwing an absolute bullet to 2nd base to cut down Bogaerts in the 7th. It was an important play in a tightening game. Other than the Lough play, the Orioles played solid defense all night long which is more than the Red Sox could claim. There were several plays that could have been made on the Boston side. On a cold night, nobody looked particularly flexible out there.
Tillman’s strike out of Jackie Bradley Jr. with two-on and two-out in a 6-3 game to end the fifth and his outing was huge as the Red Sox clearly had Tillman on the ropes. The Cruz hit was important, but on the offensive side I thought the biggest plays of the night were the walk to Cruz with two outs in the fifth and Mike Carp’s inability to field Matt Wieters’ slow ground ball which allowed a run to score.
JJ Hardy followed with a ringing single to left. The Orioles had a man on first with two outs and were able to reach base in three straight at bats to plate two run and extend the lead from 4-1 to 6-1. Without these runs, Tillman likely wouldn’t have been allowed to give up the two runs in the bottom of the inning without being removed from the game.
I’m not sure there has ever been a more unlikeable battery than John Lackey and AJ Pierzynski. Both guys barked at pretty much every call that didn’t go their way and just generally had a snarl on their face throughout the night. I love to beat the Red Sox regardless of the circumstance, but beating Lackey adds an extra layer of smug satisfaction to the evening. John Farrell burned his only challenge of the night on the first play of the game when he unsuccessfully challenged the Markakis double. That didn’t really matter because the umpires decided to review a bang/bang play in the 8th inning where the Sox runner was called out at first. Farrell went out to dispute the call and apparently said the magic words because the umpires decided to review the play on their own. The runner was safe by the narrowest of margins.so the umpires changed the call and an out came off the board. They got the call right, which is great, but I found the whole sequence interesting.
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