Heading into an off day Thursday, the last thing the Orioles needed was to drop another game to Toronto, losing 3 of 4 to the last place team in the AL East, and spending 24-36 hours hearing whispers of “choke”. So, with all their playoff rivals picking up wins Wednesday, the Orioles hit a team record seven home runs and rode the right arm of Miguel Gonzalez (W, 8-4) to a very big, 12-2 win at Camden Yards.
Forget about the lopsided final. Before the barrage of bombs, this was a nail-biter. The Jays actually struck first, in the first, with a homer of their own. Edwin Encarnacion blasted his 42nd home run for a 1-0 lead. Nate McLouth answered, leading off the O’s first with his 6th homer, tying things at one.
There it stayed until the fifth. Anthony Gose picked up an RBI single off of Gonzalez, and it was 2-1 Toronto. But the Orioles had 15 more outs to play with (though they only needed 12), and they got the absolute most of them.
In the O’s fifth, Jim Thome ripped his 3rd Orioles homer (8th overall) just over the out-of-town scoreboard in right, and we were tied at 2. Two outs later, Manny Machado again displayed what the buzz is all about with him. On a 2-1 changeup on the inside from Carlos Villanueva (L, 7-7), Machado somehow managed to collapse his arms, draw his hands tight to his body, and meet the ball with the barrel of the bat. Somehow, someway, on an 81 MPH changeup, with his hands against his buttons, looking more like he was tied up by the pitch, Machado generated enough bat speed to line a shot into the Orioles bullpen in left center. Machado’s 5th home run gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. And the Orioles were just getting started.
Next, McLouth singled to left. JJ Hardy singled to left, and up stepped Chris Davis, with 7 home runs against Toronto this year. Davis jumped all over a hanging, 0-2 slider, launching a blast that was as high as it was deep, for a three-run homer (27). The Orioles had a 6-2 lead, and the Blue Jays were visibly beaten. And still, the O’s were just getting started.
Mark Reynolds’ two run homer (23) in the sixth made it 8-2. In the seventh, Davis added another homer (28), a two-run shot, for a 10-2 lead. Machado hit his second homer of the night (6) in the 8th, for the final runs in a 12-2 win.
The O’s return to action in a very, very big weekend set with the Red Sox beginning Friday. The last regular season home series gets underway at 7:05.
- Great game from Gozalez: 7IP, 2R, 5H, 1BB, 1K, 1HR. When an Orioles starter goes 7 or more innings, the Orioles are 35-2.
- Every O’s starter reached base.
- Multi-hit games from McLouth, Hardy, Davis, and Machado, with Davis and Machado hitting two homers each. Of the O’s 12 hits, 8 went for extra bases (7 homers and a double).
- Just when you though Mark Reynolds was heading back to slumber, he wakes up with a very long, very high home run blast. His bat carried this team for about two and a half weeks. Oh, how nice it would be to see him go through another one of those stretches.
- Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter combine for two scoreless innings of relief, giving up 2 hits (both by Hunter) and striking out 2 (both by Matusz).
- Randy Wolf is gone for the season and post season with an elbow injury. Yes his ERA was in the 5’s, but he actually pitched pretty well and threw some very important innings for the O’s.
- The Jays now host the Yankees for 4 games. Go Blue Jays!