Written by Chris Slade
Tonight's late night contest got started at 10:05 ET with Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago on the mound. We had ourselves a good old fashioned pitcher's duel through the first five innings. Once Santiago departed after the 5th, the Orioles had themselves a three-run inning in the 6th. J.J. Hardy drove in a run on a double and Jonathan Schoop followed with a big two-run blast to center. Hardy drove in another run in the 8th to give the O's a 4-0 lead. Mike Trout cut the lead in half with a two-run shot in the 8th but Zach Britton closed things out in the 9th to secure the win.
Miguel Gonzalez had pitched into the 8th inning in each of his last two starts and did the same today. That's what we like to see from a guy who had previously struggled to maintain effectiveness after 5-6 innings. Gonzalez simply would not give in and throw the Angels hittable strikes tonight which is why he was effective. He let the Angels get themselves out by swinging at tough pitches down in or outside the zone and showed great command of his low 90's fastball. Those who didn't fall for Gonzalez's nibbling combined to draw four walks against him over his 7.2 innings of work. But, that didn't faze Gonzo and he pitched a gem with just two singles allowed to Efren Navarro until two outs in the 8th. Mike Trout finally got a hold of a rare mistake pitch from Gonzalez for a two-run blast that ended his night. Still a great outing and a much deserved 5th win of the season.
Final Line: 7.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, Win
Tommy Hunter came on to face one batter in the 8th and retired Albert Pujols on a groundout.
Zach Britton notched his 18th save with a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th, including a pair of swinging K's from Josh Hamilton and Erick Aybar.
While the lineup failed to score a run in five innings against Hector Santiago, they exhibited above average plate discipline tonight against him. This caused his pitch count to run up to 99 after five innings of work.
Once Santiago left, the Orioles put up three runs off relief pitcher Mike Morin in the 6th inning, highlighted by an RBI double from J.J. Hardy and 2 RBI homer from Jonathan Schoop.
Hardy and Schoop both finsihed 2-for-4 on the night and drove in two runs each.
Defensive Highlights/ Lowlights
Chris Davis made a nice diving stop on a groundball in the 1st and flipped to Gonzalez to get the force out.
Key Moments In The Game
The two-out rally proved to be key in the Orioles winning this game. Chris Davis singled on a soft groundball to third base to keep the inning alive with two outs. J.J. Hardy then followed with the scoreless tie-breaking double that put the O's up 1-0. Jonathan Schoop then had the swing of the game with a two-run dong to center field that plated Hardy.
Other Notes/ Musings
Manny Machado was a late-scratch from tonight's lineup due to back spasms. Ryan Flaherty subbed in for him at third.
The Orioles are now a season best 11 games above .500
Miguel Gonzalez quietly has a 3.30 ERA over his last ten starts. And some fans want to move him to the bullpen...
The Angels had won 20 of their last 23 home series, including ten straight before tonight. That's big time for the birds.
Tune in for the series finale (and potential sweep) same time tomorrow night. Chris Tillman will oppose Angels ace Jered Weaver.
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