Written by Chris Slade
I made the trip down to the Camden Yards for tonight's game and it did not disappoint. The game got started at 7:05 ET with Chris Tillman and Michael Pineda on the mound. The Yankees drew first blood with a Francisco Cervelli two-run shot in the 4th inning. The Orioles finally got a run on the board in the 5th inning when Ryan Flaherty sac flied a run in from third. The Yankees held onto their 2-1 lead in this tight game until the Oriole offense exploded for a 4-run 8th. Jonathan Schoop hit a home run to tie it and Adam Jones hit a three-run bomb with two outs to take the lead, sending the Yard into a frenzy. Zach Britton let up a run in the 9th but sealed the 5-3 victory.
Chris Tillman continued his recent stretch of dominance (3 ER or less in 13 straight starts) with another fine outing tonight against the Yankees. His lone blemish on the night came in the 4th inning when he served up a two-run homer to Francisco Cervelli. His fastball command was excellent and the pitch sat 90-92 MPH on the stadium gun. He snapped off a nasty 75 MPH curveball in the 4th inning that Jacoby Ellsbury wiffed at helplessly. His changeup was also pretty sharp tonight, accounting for two of his strikeouts and a double play. Despite minimal run support, he kept the O's in the game by attacking the Yankee hitters all night with sharp stuff, not walking a single batter, while allowing just five hits.
Final Line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, No Decision
Darren O'Day entered to pitch the top of the 8th with the Orioles down a run. It was also at this point that I had successfully managed to weasel my way into the home run seats in left center. I'm opportunistic and took advantage of a inexplicably empty row in front of a herd of painfully annoying Yankee fans. O'Day pitched a scoreless 8th and picked up the win as the Oriole bats suddenly came alive in the bottom of the 8th, which I'm sure had nothing to do with my presence in the home runs seats in left.
Zach Britton entered ready to slam the door shut with the crowd alive and kicking after the 8th inning theatrics. He didn't quite finish off the game with a flair, as the Yankees managed a walk and a run scored on Chase Headley's RBI single. But, he didn't need to be at his absolute best tonight, thankfully, pitching with a three run lead. He notched his 25th save of the season.
The first four innings of the game on offense may have put some folks watching at home to sleep. Michael Pineda, the Yankees talented young righthander, was on his A game early one and retired the first 12 batters he faced. Nelson Cruz finally broke through with the team's first hit in the 5th when he smoked a doubled into the left-center gap. We don't ask much of Ryan Flaherty but we do ask that he come through in small-ball situations which he did by hitting a sac fly to center that scored Cruz from third.
The bats were held quiet by Yankees all-star reliever Dellin Betances for the next two innings until Jonathan Schoop came through with a clutch home run to tie the game in the 8th.
Betances was then removed for Shawn Kelley who wound up taking the loss in this game. He allowed a two out single to Nick Markakis, followed by a walk to Chris Davis. The biggest swing of the game came on the first pitch to the next batter, Mr. Adam Jones, who barely cleared the fences into the Oriole bullpen for a three-run blast.
Defensive Highlights/ Lowlights
Chris Davis starting a game at third base is a highlight in and of itself. He actually played fairly well at the hot corner tonight.
Delmon Young nearly made a sliding catch on Stephen Drew's double in the 4th innning, with the ball popping out of his glove at the end of his slide.
Nick Hundley made an errant throw on a gorunder by Drew in the 7th but the first base umpire ruled Drew out for obstructing Hundley's throw by being too far left of the baseline. Joe Girardi took offense to the call and let the umps have it, getting tossed in the process.
Key Moments In The Game
Everything that happened after I switched seats was glorious. By the way, I don't condone seat-switching...but if it's late in the game and an open row remains in a favorable section...why not? I timed it right as Tillman finished off his outing strong in the 7th, O'Day worked a solid 8th, and the bats took care of the rest with two clutch home runs in the bottom of the 8th.
Other Notes/ Musings
Former Oriole all-star third baseman Melvin Mora threw out the first pitch tonight, accompanied by his quintuplets. Yes, you read that right if you weren't aware his children are quintuplets.
The Orioles are now a season-best 19 games over .500 and hold a 7 game lead over the Blue Jays.
Tonight's game was broadcast on ESPN, a perfect opportunity for Adam Jones to deliver in the national spotlight. The O's are now 3-0 in prime time games in 2014.
Darren O'Day has allowed one earned run over his last 24 innings, while striking out 28. That, my friends, is called dominance.
What a great game to be a part of tonight. The stadium was absolutely rocking when the Orioles made their dramatic come back in the 8th. Game's like tonight really make me a believer that this team is special and ready to take down their 1st AL East crown in 17 years. And why stop there...
O's are off tomorrow before heading to Cleveland on Friday.
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