Being no-hit by Red Sox right hander Aaron Cook, the Orioles turned on a dime in the sixth of Wednesday night and put together the big inning the propelled them to a 5-3 win. The birds picked up just six hits on the night, from six different Orioles. Five of the team’s six hits came in the sixth, when the Orioles would plate each of their runs.
The offensive explosion came seemingly out of nowhere. Cook had thrown just 53 pitches entering the sixth. His Sox had given him the lead with two runs off Orioles starter—and former Red Sox farmhand—Miguel Gonzalez (W, 5-2) in the fifth. Cook even retired Omar Quintanilla on a two-pitch ground out to start the sixth. But then he walked Nick Markakis on five pitches, and on a 1-0 pitch to JJ Hardy, the O’s shortstop broke the ice with a single to left. It was as if Hardy had taught his teammates how to ride a bike in that one swing. After that, for just one inning, it got easy.
Nate McLouth lined a single to right center, scoring Markakis, moving Hardy to third, and making it 2-1 Boston. Next up, Adam Jones hit a sharp comebacker to the mound for what looked like an easy, inning-ending double play. But Cook fired the ball into center field. Hardy scored to tie things at two, and McLouth wound up at third.
Matt Wieters followed that with an opposite field double to left, scoring McLouth for a 3-2 O’s lead. One out later, Mark Reynolds, Tuesday’s offensive hero, tacked on two enormous insurance runs with his own two bagger, this one off reliever Junizi Tazawa. The Orioles, having come into the inning without a hit through 15 outs, had scored five times before the Red Sox could get the next three outs.
The Sox added a run in the seventh, aided by a throwing error from reliever J.C. Romero. But the combination of Luis Ayala, Pedro Strop, and Jim Johnson, who picked up his 35th save, slammed the door, getting the last 7 outs in order. Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and manager Bobby Valentine were also tossed in the eighth, after Gonzalez, who’d grounded out, argued with home plate umpire Mike Everitt while trotting back to the Sox’s dugout. Word is, Gonzalez thought Strop had quick-pitched him.
The O’s and Red Sox wrap up their three game series Thursday night at Camden Yards. First pitch is slated for 7:05, with the Sox sending Clay Buchholtz (10-3, 4.24) to the mound. For the Orioles, Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.40) will try to bounce back from a poor outing Saturday against the Royals.
- Miguel Gonzalez…VERY good against his former team: 6IP, 6H, 2ER, 2K, 1BB. You look at the Red Sox pitching staff right now and you have to wonder how they let THIS guy get away.
- Manny Machado picked up a hit, and made a pair of outstanding plays. In the fifth, the Sox had already scored two and had Jacoby Ellsbury on third base. Dustin Padroia hit a bouncer down the third base line. Machado ranged far to his right and got down to pick the ball. With his momentum carrying him well into foul ground, Machado fired across his body with that great arm. Mark Reynolds handled a tough hop on the other end of the play for the final out of the inning, saving a run. Then Machado made a diving catch on a soft liner to his right off the bat of Nick Punto to end the game.
- The Orioles are 11 over .500 for the first time in nearly two months.
- Sox fans who’d come out to Camden Yards were making some noise as Cook flirted with a no-no. There wasn’t much to cheer about for them after the sixth, though.
- Omar Quintanilla was one of three Orioles without a hit. He gets singled out for making two outs in one inning. In the five-run sixth, Quintanilla made both the first and the last out. That said, what a huge pick up Quintanilla has been for this team.