Before Friday, the last time the Orioles beat an opponent that scored at least eight runs against them without going into extra innings, Jake Arrieta was their starting (and winning) pitcher, and they beat the Indians. Matt Wieters delivered a home run for the good guys. Of course, so did Luke Scott, Corey Patterson and Felix Pie. The date was August 10, 2010.
Friday night at Camden Yards, the birds turned back the clock a bit, and outslugging the Indians 9-8 in a game started by Jake Arrieta, again thanks, in large part, to Wieters’ power bat again.
Arrieta would not be around long enough for the win this time, as the right hander reverted back to his inconsistent ways of earlier this season after three straight solid performances. He allowed 10 baserunners (8 hits, 2 walks), including a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera, and coughed up a 2-run lead in just 3.1 innings.
Down 5-3 when Arrieta was chased, there was every reason for the overheated Camden Yards crowd to think the worst. But Friday night, the offense came to play. The Orioles had pulled to within one at 5-4 in the seventh, when, with one out and two on, Wieters crushed an 88 MPH Derek Lowe sinker down and in, onto Eutaw Street, for a 7-5 lead.
The one consistent strength of these 2012 Orioles has been the ability of the bullpen to hold leads late in games. Darren O’Day has been a major part of that strength. But the submariner suddenly finds himself struggling, and Friday, he would blow a lead for just the second time this season. O’Day faced 5 batters, and gave up 4 hits. He allowed his one inherited runner to score, and even a double play turned behind him resulted in a Cleveland run.
Matt Lindstrom (W, 1-0) came on for a 3-pitch appearance to end the seventh with runners on the corners, but the game now tied at 7.
The Orioles answered with a two-out rally in their half of the seventh. Chris Davis delivered a single, and Wieters walked, bringing up Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty grounded the second pitch he saw from reliever Joe Smith (L, 5-2) into right field, scoring Davis to put the birds back on top.
Xavier Avery added his first big league home run, an opposite field, solo shot with one out in the eighth, tacking on what would become a vital insurance run, making it 9-7 O’s.
Jim Johnson gave up a run on two hits to close it in the ninth, giving the Orioles a 9-8 win and evening the series at a game apiece. The Orioles and Indians are back at it Saturday at 4:05. Dana Eveland (0-0, 3.00) makes his second start for the O’s, against Josh Tomlin (3-5, 5.70).
- Situational hitting. The Orioles scored a pair of runs on productive outs Friday, which is something that has been sorely lacking during the recent offensive swoon.
- More stolen bases. The birds swiped three Friday, one each from Flaherty, Robert Andino, and the first from Brian Roberts since his comeback. The Orioles had gone a span of over 3 weeks without a steal, and now have 6 in their last 3 games. It’s as if, for those 3 weeks, they forgot stealing bases was allowed.
- Troy Patton gave the team 2.1 important and solid relief innings. He was charged with one run, which scored after he left the game, but things could have gotten away from the Orioles without Patton’s effort. Pedro Strop also tossed a perfect inning.
- Though they put up 9 runs, the O’s were still just 3-12 with RISP, and left 8 on base.