It sure didn’t look like Mark Reynolds was going to be the offensive hero of the night early in Tuesday’s Red Sox/Orioles matchup at Camden Yards. In fact, it looked like his season-long offensive woes were doomed to continue. With one out and two on in the second, Reynolds could have done lots of things to be productive. Instead, he fouled out to the catcher, and Sox starter Josh Beckett (L, 5-10) escaped the jam. But Reynolds would be heard from in this one, as he led the Orioles to a 7-1 win.
This summer, Reynolds has primarily played the part of the huge bear that you really, really wanted to see as a kid on an otherwise perfect visit to the zoo, but who decided to mostly sleep the day away. No matter how long you stared into his cage, all you saw was an immobile ball of fur. And begging for it to move, and screaming at it to do SOMETHING, had no effect. And so you walked away but promised yourself that you’d revisit the cage before you left, and when you did, he was still just…there. Except now, he’d done something to stink up the joint. And you again told yourself you’d be back, but you did so as you were holding your nose, running away as fast as you could. The Orioles are hoping this bear, silent all these months, is just now standing, stretching, scrubbing away the crud from his eyes (do bears do that?), and rejoining the party that is this zoo, after a long summer’s slumber.
With the game tied at one in the fifth, Reynolds led off against Beckett with an opposite-field, solo home run onto the flag court. It was a nice piece of hitting from Reynolds, going right with a 90 MPH fastball on the outside part of the plate, just above the belt.
The birds had added two more runs by the time Reynolds batted again. Matt Wieters’ rare infield hit scored JJ Hardy for a 3-1 Orioles lead. Chris Davis followed that up with a base hit to center, scoring Adam Jones. Davis’ hit chased Beckett, and Bobby Valentine went to the bullpen for Mark Melancon to face Reynolds.
Melancon’s first pitch was a curve with decent movement, but in a horrible spot: Down the middle, at the knees. Reynolds hammered it deep into the left field seats for a three-run shot, his 11th homer of the year, second of the night, and a 7-1 lead in the sixth.
Now, exactly how the Red Sox had scored only one run up until that point is both a testament to the toughness of O’s starter Wei-Yin Chen (W, 11-7), and the ineptitude of the Boston Red Sox, who really do appear to be not very good this year.
Through six inning plus, Chen gave up nine hits. He struck out four and walked one. He never retired the side in order. He labored. The Sox took him deep into counts. They fouled off tough pitches. But they could push no more than one run across. Chen’s biggest moments in this one came in the fourth and sixth innings.
The Orioles had just taken a 1-0 lead on Omar Quintanilla’s third homer as an Oriole, when the Sox came fighting back in the top of the fourth. Cody Ross led off with a double, and scored one out later on Carl Crawford’s single to center. But Chen was able to get Mike Aviles on strikes, and Danny Valencia on a fly out to Jones in center, keeping things tied at one.
The sox came to the plate in the sixth, again with the Orioles having just taken the lead on a home run (Reynolds’ first of the night). Ross again led off, this time with a single. One out later, Ross moved to third on another hit from Crawford. The Sox had runners on the corners with just one away, and Chen looked like he was running out of gas. But the just as he did in the fourth, Chen struck out Aviles for out number two. And, just as he did in the fourth, Chen induced Valencia to fly out to Jones in center, for out number three.
Chen pitched to one batter—Jacoby Ellsbury—in the seventh, giving up a base hit to him, and Showalter lifted his ace for Darren O’Day. The O’s had plated five the half-inning prior, building the 7-1 lead. But things still got interesting in the seventh. Dustin Pedroia smacked a one-out double, moving Ellsbury to third. When Adrian Gonzalez walked, the Red Sox had the bases loaded with just one away. But O’Day was able to strikeout both Ross and Ryan Lavarnway to escape the jam unscathed.
Newest Oriole J.C. Romero pitched a scoreless eighth, and Matt Lindstrom threw a perfect ninth to lock down another Orioles win.
Miguel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.42) throws for the Orioles Wednesday night against Boston’s Aaron Cook (3-5, 4.70). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
- Reynolds and Davis, numbers 6 and 7 in the order, combined to go 4-7 with 3R, 2HR, 1BB, 1K, and 5RBI.
- Quintanilla with another solid night with the bat (1-3, 1HR) and with the glove.
- Chen only stuck out four, but he seems to be able to reach back and get that strikeout at the perfect time. He does it often. He has a swing-and-miss pitch. Maybe he can teach it to Tommy Hunter. And Zach Britton. And Brian Matusz. And Jake Arrieta.
- Manny Machado was, offensively, a non-factor, at 0/3. What is wrong with that kid? When will he ever break out of this horrible slump?