The Baltimore Orioles are currently 1/3 of the way through a killer 15 game stretch that sees them playing nothing but contenders. I remarked at the beginning of the month, to no one in particular, that the Orioles would be lucky if they went 5-10 during this run…this would put them precipitously close to the .500 mark, and a downslide would inevitably take place. Well, after five games of the stretch that has featured road trips to both New York and Boston, the Orioles are…4-1. Yeah, that happened. And the one loss came by a 2-1 score. The Orioles have outscored their opposition 27-9 over the first five games of this killer run, and are tied with the Rangers for the second best record in the AL, a half game behind the Rays. I’m being totally serious. This is actually happening. Baseball: what a crazy game.
Game of the Night: A’s 4, Rays 3 (12 innings). Do you like solo homers? Well then, this is the game for you! The A’s got on the board first with a solo homer by Josh Reddick, and added a second run in the third courtesy of a Kila Ka’aihue RBI single. Eliot Johnson homered in the third to make it 2-1, but Reddick answered with an RBI single in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-1. The Rays immediately answered in the fourth with a Ben Zobrist solo homer, and tied it up in the fifth as Carlos Pena hit a solo homer. Things would stay knotted at three until the 12th, when former Ray Jonny Gomes stepped in and hit a solo homer to give the A’s a 4-3 lead, and after a scoreless 12th from Grant Balfour (another former Ray), a victory. There were a total of six extra base hits in this game…and five were solo homers.
Pitching Line of the Night: Felix Hernandez proved once again why he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. He threw eight shutout, one hit innings against the Twins last night, striking out nine while walking just two. Even the Mariners couldn’t screw that one up. In much more surprising news, Chris Capuano of the Dodgers had another good start, throwing seven shutout innings against the Cubs while allowing three hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts in LA’s 5-1 win. Mark Buerhle of the White Sox also did what Mark Buerhle does: eat innings. He threw a complete game against the Padres and got the win, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks, while striking out three.
Hitting Line of the Night: Rockies prospect Wilin Rosario got a start behind the dish in Colorado’s game against the Braves, and he made it worthwhile, going 2/5 with a pair of homers and three RBI. Another rare starter, Chad Tracy of the Nationals, made the most of his start, going 3/4 against the Phillies with two runs, two RBI, a double and a homer. And then, there’s another Rockie, Michael Cuddyer. He went 2/4 with two runs, four RBI, and a homer.
Spotlight Series: There would be no umpiring controversy in Washington on Saturday, as the Nationals pounded the Phillies 7-1. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a Carlos Ruiz sac fly, but that would be all they’d get. Former Phillie Jayson Werth hit a three run homer in the fifth, and Rick Ankiel followed with an RBI double to make it a 4-1 Nationals lead. Ian Desmond homered in the sixth to make it 5-1, and that led to Phillies starter Vance Worley getting pulled after six innings, ten hits, five runs, two walks, four strikeouts, and two homers. Washington tacked on two more in the seventh on a two run Chad Tracy homer off of Joe Savery. Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez was in good form all game, allowing just the one run over seven innings on four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts. The Phillies offense as a whole had just five hits and one walk against the Nationals combination of Gonzalez and Ryan Mattheus. Yeah, that’s a pretty good outing from the Nationals staff. Washington looks for the sweep tonight on ESPN, and that would go a long way towards proving that this team isn’t going away this seaosn.
Other Games: Jason Hammel mastered the Red Sox and Aaron Cook wasn’t sharp in his return to the majors, as Baltimore beat Boston 8-2. The Dodgers rolled the Cubs 5-1. Adam Dunn homered off of Jose Valverde in the ninth to give the White Sox a 3-2 win over the Tigers. The Rangers needed 11 innings to do it, but they still beat the Indians 5-2 thanks to a homer by Adrian Beltre. Johan Santana got his first win since September 2010 as the Mets beat the Diamondbacks 4-3. Felipe Paulino’s first start of the year was a good one, and the Royals beat the Yankees 5-1. Madison Bumgarner led the Giants to a 5-2 win over the Brewers. The Astros beat the Cardinals 8-2 behind a strong game by Chris Johnson. The Pirates got a couple of homers and beat the Reds 3-2. The Angels beat the Blue Jays 6-2 with no Albert Pujols in the lineup. The Braves came back from a huge deficit (again) and beat the Rockies 13-9. Offense and pitching weren’t a problem for the Mariners, who shut out the Twins 7-0. The Marlins shut down the Padres in a 4-1 win.
Today’s Games: Yu Darvish starts for the Rangers against the Indians. Mat Latos will go for the Reds in Pittsburgh. Matt Moore starts for the Rays as they host Oakland. Brandon Beachy goes for the Braves in Denver, where their starters have struggled this series. Phil Hughes and Luke Hochevar will duel in a battle of two pitchers with ERAs above 7.00. Shaun Marcum and Matt Cain will go at it by the bay. And finally, your primetime game in the spotlight series is the best pitching matchup of the day: Cole Hamels versus Jordan Zimmermann. Ohhhhh yes.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.