Buck Showalter Looks To Lead The Baltimore Orioles To A Winning Season in 2012...Let's Go O's!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

O's Drop Fifth Straight Behind Hammel

Jason Hammel couldn't stop the bleeding and the O's fell to Toronto 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Hammel gave up four solo homers in 6 2/3 innings after allowing just three in his previous nine starts and fell to 6-2 on the season.

The O's scored on an infield hit in the second inning but were kept off the board the rest of the game, managing just four hits all night and striking out 10 times.

The Birds have now lost three straight series and have won just two of their last 10 games, yet are still tied for first with the Rays.

After an off-day Thursday, things get interesting as the O's take on Tampa Bay for a three-game set starting Friday night. Wei-Yin Chen looks to lead the Birds to victory and sole possession of first...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

O's Drop Fourth Straight

The O's recent slide continued with an 8-6 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night.

Jake Arrieta was rocked to the tune of seven runs (six earned) off six hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings. Arrieta (2-6) hasn't won in four weeks and his ERA now stands at 5.37.

The offense didn't help him out, either. The Birds managed just three hits over the first five innings, and were down 8-1 heading into the sixth. The O's rally fell short with the go-ahead run at the plate in the ninth.

Adam Jones went 3-for-3 with a single, two walks, two homers and three RBIs and extended his career-best hit streak to 20 games.

The Birds (29-21) are still tied with Tampa for the lead in the East, but just 3 1/2 games separate the five teams in the division. If the Birds don't start winning soon, they could be in last place by the end of this road trip. The O's turn to Jason Hammel on Wednesday night and look to avoid the sweep.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

O's Drop Third Straight

The O's lost their third straight game after a humiliating 6-2 loss to Toronto on Monday night.

Tommy Hunter lasted just 3 innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on nine hits, walking none and striking out none. Hunter (2-3) gave up a two-run shot in the third and another in the fourth before being pulled. The 'pen allowed just three baserunners through the final five frames, but Hunter's hole was too deep...

The O's continued to struggle offensively, and were held scoreless until the ninth inning. They squandered a chance in the third inning...a single, three walks and no runs. That's pretty much been the story these last few games. Adam Jones extended his hit streak to 19 games with a single in the ninth, and Mark Reynolds slapped an RBI double in his first game back from the DL.

The three-game losing streak ties a season-worst for the Birds...they were swept in three by the Yankees in early April. Tampa Bay lost earlier in the day, so the O's (29-20) are still tied for first in the division.

These last few games have hurt, but I fully expect the O's to battle back later tonight. The starters have been pretty consistent so far, and the talent is there. I'm hoping to avoid the long losing streaks that we've seen in seasons past. The offense has been in a slump but the Birds are tied with the Yankees for second in the league with 72 long balls. Let's see if they can put it all together on Tuesday night...Jake Arrieta takes the mound and looks to put the O's back in the win column.

Monday, May 28, 2012

O's Drop Series To Royals

You gotta beat the teams you're supposed to beat. Yet the first-place O's fell to the Kansas City Royals, the second-worst team in the AL,  4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

That being said, this was the first time all season that the Birds dropped back-to-back series, which is pretty amazing. The O's finished the homestand with a disappointing 2-4 record but are still tied with the Rays for first in the East.

Brian Matusz pitched a good game, allowing four runs (three earned) on three walks and seven hits over six innings, striking out five. Two of the hits went for solo homers. It was the second straight game the O's lost after getting a quality start after going 22-1 in that scenario since the start of the season. The bullpen allowed just one baserunner over the final three frames, but the damage had been done.

Offensively, the O's just couldn't get anything going...the club went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and didn't score after the fourth inning. Adam Jones, who just a few hours earlier had agreed to a six-year contract extension, extended his career-best 18-game hitting streak with a double in the fifth inning.

The O's now head out on a nine-game divisional road trip starting in Toronto on Monday night. Tommy Hunter takes the mound for the Birds.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Royal Flush

The O's let one slip away on Saturday afternoon, falling to Kansas City 4-3 in front of nearly 27,000 fans at Camden Yards.

I had just stated in my last post how the Birds were getting all the breaks- Orioles Magic- but things went the Royals' way on Saturday. Most noticeable was a swinging-bunt double in the seventh where the ball hugged the foul line but just wouldn't roll foul. That run came in to score to tie the game. Nick Johnson came a few feet away from giving the O's a 5-4 lead in the eighth with a two-run blast that hooked just foul. It was just one of those games...

The Birds went ahead early, handing Wei-Yin Chen a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Chris Davis homered for the second straight game in the second inning, J.J. Hardy led-off the third with a solo shot of his own and Adam Jones extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a triple, coming home on Matt Wieters' sac fly. But the bats went silent over the final six frames.

Chen kept the Royals off the board through four innings before allowing a run in the fifth and another in the sixth. He lasted six innings, allowing just the two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Darren O'Day allowed the tying run to cross in the seventh and Pedro Strop surrendered the eventual winning run in the eighth.

The O's (29-18) stayed a full game ahead of the Rays after they fell to Boston on Saturday night. Before the game on Sunday, the O's are set to announce the contract extension of Adam Jones- six years for $85.5 million. Brian Matusz looks for his fifth win in May after the mega-deal is announced.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hammel Out-Duels "Old" Chen

Remember Bruce Chen? The old O's lefty was going for his fourth straight win on Friday night...unfortunately for him, his club was facing Jason Hammel and the Orioles, and the Birds spanked the Royals 8-2 in front of nearly 30,000 fans at Camden Yards.

Hammel (6-1) went six strong innings, shutting out Kansas City on just five hits and a walk while fanning seven. Stu Pomeranz, fresh from Triple-A Norfolk, went two innings in relief but lost the shutout after surrendering a two-out homer in the eighth. Dana Eveland pitched a scoreless ninth.

The O's struck first, scoring on a sac fly off the bat of Adam Jones, but left the bases loaded in the first with just a 1-0 lead. But the bats came to life in a big five-run fifth...Xavier Avery led off with a walk, then stole second although Chen had him picked off (this kid is FAST). Robert Andino laid down a perfect sac bunt that turned into an infield single, and then promptly stole second. Chen had Andino picked off as well, but he hustled and slid in under the tag...instead of none on with two outs, the Birds had runners at second and third with no one down. If you haven't accepted that some Orioles' Magic is in the air this season, you really should! The Birds used two doubles, two singles and another stolen base to chase Chen from the game and take a commanding 6-0 lead. Chris Davis added another pair of runs with a two-run bomb in the seventh.

The O's (29-17) still hold the best record in the AL and maintained a one-game lead over the Rays in the East. The Birds send their own Chen (Wei-Yin) to the mound on Saturday afternoon...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arrieta Struggles As Birds Fall To BoSox

Finally...a day off. It would have been a little sweeter with a series win over Boston, but the O's will have to settle for one-of-three after a 6-5 loss on Wednesday afternoon.

It certainly isn't easy to take four straight series against the Sox...the Birds hadn't accomplished the feat since 1960. But they were "O" so close...

The game see-sawed throughout: the O's went up 1-0, the Sox tied it, the Birds took a 2-1 lead before Boston tied it again. The Red Sox took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth but Nick Johnson's second homer of the day, a two-run blast, put the O's within a run in the bottom of the frame. Down 6-4, the O's had runners at second and third with none out in the eighth but managed only a run on a sac fly.

Jake Arrieta (2-5) took the loss and was charged with four runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings of work.

The O's (28-17) are still in first and went 12-8 over the last 20-game stretch. They finally get a day of rest before sending Jason Hammel to the mound Friday night to kick-off a three-game set against the Royals.

Matusz Magnificent As O's Roll

Brian Matusz seems to have returned to form over his past few starts, and Tuesday night was no exception. Matusz turned in a gem in the O's 4-1 victory over Boston at Camden Yards.

Matusz evened his record to 4-4 on the season and exited to a standing ovation in the seventh after allowing just one run on two hits and a walk over 6 1/3 frames, fanning a career-best nine batters. Darren O'Day, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson held the Sox hitless over the final 2 2/3 innings. Johnson picked up his 16th save in as many tries this season, retiring the heart of the order on eight pitches in the ninth.

Third baseman Steve Tolleson gave Matusz an early lead with a two-run bomb in the second, his first as an Oriole and first in nearly two years. Wilson Betemit blasted a two-run shot in the eighth to give Johnson some breathing room...

The O's and Sox face-off once more on Thursday afternoon; with a win, the Birds would take four straight series against Boston for the first time since 1960. Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the O's...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

O's Drop Second Straight

The Birds rallied but eventually fell to Boston 8-6 at Camden Yards on Monday night.

Tommy Hunter was given a three-run lead but gave it right back, allowing the tying run to cross the plate on a balk in the sixth inning. Hunter allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings, walking none and fanning three. Kevin Gregg came on in the seventh and was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on three hits and a walk.

The Birds showed patience at the plate in the third inning against a struggling Clay Buchholz, who walked in two runs with the bases loaded. Chris Davis slapped a solo homer in the fourth to give the O's a 5-2 lead. But the Sox rallied, and the O's didn't score again until the eighth. They had a chance to tie or take the lead with only one out and runners on second and third, but Wilson Betemit popped-out and Nick Johnson struck out swinging to end the threat.

The O's (27-16) still hold sole possession of first in the division while Boston (21-21) is tied with New York for last. The two clubs go at it again later tonight; Brian Matusz takes the mound for the Birds.

Monday, May 21, 2012

O's Fall To Nats In Finale

The streak had to end sometime. You can't win em' all, as the old saying goes. The O's lost on the road for the first time in their last ten tries and saw a five-game winning streak snapped after falling to the nationals 9-3 on Sunday afternoon.

The sad part is that everything went right for the Birds early on. They took a 3-0 lead after two innings and it seemed like they would cruise behind starter Wei-Yin Chen. But baseball is a funny game, and the Nats surged back, scoring nine unanswered runs. The Orioles were held hitless from the third inning until the ninth while the Nationals feasted on Chen and the 'pen.

Chen (4-1) turned in his worst performance of the season, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings. He allowed back-to-back solo homers in the fourth, including Washington's starter Stephen Strasburg's first Major League long-ball.

The Birds went 4-1 on the road trip and now head home for a week. Every other team in the East besides Boston lost, so the O's really didn't lose any ground in the standings and still lead the Rays by two full games. Tommy Hunter takes the mound on Monday night as the Birds welcome the Red Sox to Camden Yards for a three-game set.

O's Swat Nats Away

The O's just keep amazing me (and the rest of the world). In a nationally televised game on Saturday night, the Birds took down the Nationals 6-5  in front of a full house in Washington, D.C.

It was a blowout early on, as the O's took an early 6-0 lead before the Nats came charging back. Robert Andino drove in two with a single in the second, Adam Jones cranked his team-leading 14th homer in the third and Nick Markakis launched a two-run bomb in the fifth.

Starter Jason Hammel was lights-out until running into big trouble in the sixth. Hammel (5-1) got the win but was charged with four runs on six hits and two walks in just 5 1/3 frames. The bullpen didn't allow a run until Jim Johnson served up a solo homer in the ninth, but J.J. shut the door and picked up his 15th save in 15 chances this season.

The O's (27-14) have won five straight and nine in a row on the road. The club sends Wei-Ying Chen to the mound on Sunday afternoon and look for the sweep.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

O's Top Nats In 11

The O's went into extra innings, on the road, and won...again. Nick Markakis' solo homer in the top of the 11th lifted the Birds to a 2-1 victory over the Nationals on Friday night.

The Birds scored in the first inning before being shut down until the 11th. The Nationals scored their lone run on a solo homer off starter Jake Arrieta in the sixth.

That was Jake's lone mistake, as he went seven strong innings, allowing just six hits and a walk while striking out nine. The bullpen continued to impress, with four relievers tossing four one-hit innings. Pedro Strop allowed that hit in the bottom of the 11th but escaped the jam to pick up his third save of the season.

The O's (26-14) have now played 40 games, and eight have gone to extras (20%). They have won six of those contests (both losses came against the Yankees). The Birds are 12 games over .500 and have now won eight straight on the road...

The O's look to take the Beltway Series with a win on Saturday night...Jason Hammel takes the mound.

Friday, May 18, 2012

O's Complete Two-Game Road Sweep

The best team in baseball? The Baltimore Orioles. That's right...after Thursday's 5-3 win over the Royals, the O's (25-14) own the best record in the Majors and are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 2005.

It's simply incredible to watch. This team is never out of any game...on Thursday afternoon, starter Brian Matusz retired the first six batters he faced before giving up three runs in the third inning. Three runs? No worries...

Adam Jones trimmed the deficit to just a run with a two-run bomb in the fourth, his 13th long ball of the year and second in as many games. J.J. Hardy's bases-loaded, two-out two-run single in the seventh put the Birds ahead for good.

Matusz picked up his third win of the season, and Jim Johnson recorded his 14th save in as many tries...this team is clicking in all facets of the game right now (defensively, they need some work but at this point I'm not going to complain!).

The first-place O's head home (sort of) to take on the Washington Nationals in D.C. over the weekend. Jake Arrieta takes the mound on Friday night.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jones' Jack In 15th Wins It

How many extra-inning games can one team play? The O's must be looking to set another record after going into extras for the seventh time this season on Wednesday night, eventually beating the Royals 4-3 in 15 innings. Nearly 20% of the Birds' games this season were decided in extra innings...

It was quite a comeback. Down 2-0, the O's scored in the eighth to make it a one-run game, but Kansas City answered with an insurance run in the bottom of the frame. Wilson Betemit homered in the ninth to again trim the Royals' lead to one, and J.J. Hardy tied the game with an RBI single. Orioles Magic.

At that point it all boiled down to a battle of the bullpens, and it was the O's that came out on top. Dana Eveland came on in the tenth and pitched three scoreless innings before yielding to Kevin Gregg, who pitched another two scoreless frames and eventually got the "W". Adam Jones launched a solo shot, his 12th of the season, in the top of the 15th to give the O's their first lead of the game, and Jim Johnson came on in the bottom half of the inning to notch his 13th save of the year.

Brian Matusz takes the mound Thursday afternoon as the O's look for a two-game sweep in Kansas City.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chen Leads O's To Series Split

The O's managed a series split with the Yankees after a 5-2 win over New York on Tuesday night.

Starter Wei-Yin Chen improved to 4-0 on the season and exited in the eighth to a standing ovation after shutting down a potent Yankee lineup. Chen went seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out four. The runs came off a bomb from Curtis Granderson, which barely cleared the fence. A Yankee fan reached out and caught the ball, but as happened once before, there was no fan interference called.

Pedro Strop walked two in the eighth but got out of the inning, and Jim Johnson picked up his 12th save in as many attempts this season. The O's turned three double plays, two in the final two frames.

Adam Jones started the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning, his eleventh of the season. J.J. Hardy continued to punish the ball, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

The O's have finally finished the grueling 15-game series that began with series in New York and Boston, and concluded with home games against Texas, Tampa and the Yankees again. The so-called experts said the Birds would come down to earth after this stretch. Skeptics that wanted to believe pointed to this as the make-it-or-break-it point of the season. The O's came out of it winning 9 of 16 and remain in a first-place tie with the Rays.

Tommy Hunter takes the mound on Wednesday night as the Birds begin a five-game roadtrip, beginning with two games in Kansas City.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birds Let One Slip Away

On a wet and dreary Monday in Baltimore, the O's let an early lead slip away in an 8-5 loss to the Yankees.

Jason Hammel looked sharp early, allowing just two hits through the first three frames, but was charged with five runs on seven hits in just five innings of work, his shortest outing as an Oriole. The bullpen allowed another three runs over the final four innings.

The Birds scored twice in the first to take the early lead, and after New York took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, the Birds came right back and scored another three times to reclaim the lead. Xavier Avery, in just his second game, doubled and tripled and notched his first Major League RBI. J.J. Hardy launched his ninth homer of the season. But it wasn't enough, and the offense went silent after the three-run fifth. Meanwhile, the Yankees went on to score five unanswered runs.

With the loss, the O's (22-14) fell into a tie for first with the Rays. The Yankees are just a game and a half back. The two clubs wrap-up the short series later tonight...Wei-Yin Chen takes on CC Sabathia.

Monday, May 14, 2012

O's Fall Just Short

These Orioles have heart...they battled back and fell just short in a 9-8 loss to the Rays on Sunday afternoon.

Down 7-1 in the third inning, the Birds were a timely hit away from a walk-off win in the ninth inning. With one run already in and runners on second and third, Matt Wieters grounded out to end the threat, and the comeback attempt. But the O's were never out of this game, which had "blowout" written all over it early on...

Jake Arrieta turned in the worst performance of his career, allowing seven runs on ten hits and two walks in just 3 2/3 innings. The 'pen bailed Jake out, keeping the Rays off the board until Troy Patton surrendered back-to-back solo homers in the eighth. Those were the only hits Patton allowed over three innings of work, but it proved to be too much to overcome.

The Birds still took two of three from the Rays and are ahead of them in the standings by a full game. The Yankees come to town for a two-game set before the O's hit the road again...Jason Hammel takes the mound on Monday night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Matusz Victorious As O's Topple Tampa

The Orioles guaranteed a winning series against their divisional foes with a 5-3 victory over the Rays on Saturday night at Camden Yards.

Brian Matusz eclipsed last year's total with his second win of the season. Matusz (2-4) surrendered a solo homer in the second inning but then cruised until running into trouble in the sixth. He was charged with three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings, striking out five. The bullpen was once again simply spectacular, keeping the Rays off the bases over the final three frames. The 'pen has now retired 19 straight in this series...incredible.

The O's took advantage of five errors, scoring two unearned runs in the second. They scored two more on Adam Jones' single in the fifth, and added an insurance run in the eighth. Bill Hall, called up from Norfolk with Mark Reynolds hitting the DL, homered for the first time since last May and got the obligatory shaving cream pie to the face after the game...

The Birds (22-12) are now two full games ahead of the Rays in the division and look for the sweep this afternoon...Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the O's.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

O's Alone In First After Downing Rays

The Orioles claimed sole possession of first place in the East after taking down Tampa 4-3 on Friday night at Camden Yards.

I'll say this about these O's...they can hit homers. Lots of them. The Birds slapped another three dingers and lead all of baseball with 53 round-trippers this season. All four runs came via the long-ball on Friday night.

Adam Jones started things off with a solo homer in the second, his tenth of the year. Nick Markakis slapped his sixth of the season in the sixth inning, and Nick Johnson launched a two-run blast, his first as an Oriole, to give the Birds the lead in the seventh.

Dana Eveland, making his first start of the season, was shaky but managed to keep the O's in the game, and the bullpen was lights-out. Eveland allowed three runs on five hits and six walks over six innings. He struck out two and hit two batters, one with the bases loaded. But he managed to hold Tampa to just the three runs, giving the offense a chance to come back.

Eveland had a little defensive help, as well. The play of the game had to be a play at the plate in the fourth...Matt Wieters took a jarring hit but came up with the ball in his glove, denying the Rays a run and minimizing the damage in the inning.

The bullpen was spectacular as well...Darren O'Day and Pedro Strop needed just six pitches each to get through the seventh and eighth innings, and Jim Johnson needed just eight pitches in the ninth en route to his tenth save in as many tries this season.

The O's (21-12) and Rays (20-13) go at it again Saturday night...Brian Matusz takes the mound for the Birds.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Birds Split Doubleheader, Drop Series

The O's just couldn't keep pace with the Texas Rangers, falling 7-3 in Game Two of a doubleheader on Thursday at Camden Yards.

Tommy Hunter, pitching on just three days rest, looked pretty good against his former club but was tagged with the loss. Hunter (2-2) gave up a two-run bomb to Josh Hamilton in the first inning but settled down after that (Hamilton finished the four-game series with six homers). Hunter went six innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk, striking out seven.

All three of the O's runs came in a sloppy second inning...Texas committed three errors and all three runs were unearned. Had the Rangers played a clean game the Birds could have been kept off the board all together. The O's managed just five hits, but unlike Game One, where every hit left the Yard, all five hits went for singles.

The Orioles are still 20-12 and tied for first with the Rays, who are in town for a three-game set starting Friday night. Dana Eveland will get his first start as an Oriole as the two clubs battle for first in the division.

Homers Lift Birds Over Rangers

This season has been pretty adventurous, and Thursday was no exception. The O's beat the Texas Rangers 6-5 in Game One of a doubleheader, and it took just eight pitches for history to be made...

The Birds hit back-to-back-to-back jacks in the first inning, the first time the feat has been accomplished in the AL, and only the fourth time it has happened in the Majors. Ryan Flaherty led-off with his first career homer, followed by long-balls from J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis.

Adam Jones launched yet another solo shot in the seventh, his team-best ninth of the season. After Matt Wieters walked, Wilson Betemit crushed a two-run bomb to give the Birds a 6-1 lead. The O's managed just five hits all game, but all five cleared the fence...

Wei-Yin Chen (3-0) allowed just two runs on six hits over 7 2/3 innings, walking one and fanning five. Jim Johnson surrendered a three-run blast in the ninth but held on to pick up his ninth save in as many attempts.

The O's send Tommy Hunter to the mound for Game Two of the doubleheader; a win would give the Birds a split with Texas.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

O's Can't Stop Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton went 5-for-5 with a double and four home runs, knocking in eight as the Rangers pummeled the O's 10-3 on Tuesday night.

Yup. The four long balls in a game are the most by a player since 2003, and Hamilton's 18 total bases set an AL record. Simply put, it was a bit embarrassing.

Jake Arrieta became the latest starter to turn in their worst start of the season after turning in their best the start before. After shutting out the Yankees over eight innings without surrendering a single walk, Arrieta walked the second Ranger he faced before serving up Hamilton's first long ball. Arrieta (2-3) settled in and went 6 1/3 innings but was charged with six runs on nine hits and a walk, striking out three. He allowed three homers, two coming off Hamilton's bat.

Hamilton ended up going deep against each pitcher he faced. Lefty Troy Patton pitched a scoreless ninth, but he didn't have to face the slugger...

Nick Markakis broke out of his slump, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a solo home run. J.J. Hardy went 2-for-4 with a solo homer, as he continues to swing a hot bat as of late.

Texas has now outscored the Birds 24-6 over the past two games. Let's hope the O's can take the next two games and split the series...Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound on Wednesday night. Let's Go O's!

Birds Blown Out By Texas

The O's five-game winning streak was snapped Monday night with a deflating 14-3 loss to the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards.

Fresh off his best start of the season, Brian Matusz (1-4) turned in his worst performance of the year, allowing seven runs on ten hits and two walks in just five innings of work while fanning four. Jason Berken  allowed another seven runs (only two earned thanks to Mark Reynolds' sixth error) in the ninth inning. The lone bright spot? Stu Pomeranz, making his MLB debut, held the potent Rangers offense scoreless over three innings of work, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out two.

Robert Andino put the Birds on the board in the sixth with a solo homer, his second in as many games, and Wilson Betemit followed with a two-run blast in the seventh. That was all the O's could manage, as they finished with just six hits, three coming off the bat of J.J. Hardy.

The O's (19-10) are now tied with Tampa Bay for first in the division and are in a three-way tie with the Rays and Rangers for best record in the Majors. The Birds and Rangers go at it again Tuesday night...Jake Arrieta is slated to take the mound.

O's Sweep Sox After Wacky 17-Inning Win

It took 39 innings for the O's to complete their first three-game sweep in Boston since 1984. No wonder it doesn't happen very often...

On Sunday, it took 17 innings and just over six hours for the Birds to finally topple the Sox 9-6. And it was Chris Davis, the O's first baseman, who was credited with the win. It was probably the craziest game I have EVER seen...

The O's handed starter Tommy Hunter an early 5-0 lead: J.J. Hardy launched two solo homers and Robert Andino smacked his second of the season, a three-run shot in the fourth. But Hunter fell apart and surrendered five runs in the bottom of the frame, exiting after just 4 1/3 innings. The O's went ahead again in the eighth but the 'pen allowed Boston to tie it up yet again in the bottom half of the frame. Neither team scored again until the 17th inning, when Adam Jones launched his team-leading eighth homer over the Green Monster.

Both clubs ran out of arms in the bullpen as the game went on, forcing their respective skippers to use a position player on the mound. Buck Showalter turned to Chris Davis, who was the DH and had gone 0-for-8 with five strikeouts at the plate. Davis went from goat to hero, tossing two scoreless innings in relief, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out two. Seriously.

With the win, the O's (19-9) took sole possession of first in the division as well as the best record in the Majors. The club went 5-1 over the road trip through New York and Boston, and return home for a nine-game homestand starting Monday night against the Texas Rangers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Birds Rout Sox

Jason Hammel took a shutout into the seventh inning and the offense came to life early as the O's rolled over the Red Sox 8-2 on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

The Birds scored seven runs in the third inning, a season-best, and all came with two outs on the scoreboard. Adam Jones absolutely crushed a ball over the Monster and is now tied with Matt Wieters for the team lead with seven round-trippers, and Mark Reynolds launched a three-run shot to cap-off the inning and give the club an eight run advantage.

It looks like Reynolds is finally back...he's had two homers, two doubles and five RBIs in the past two games. He had no homers and just three RBIs in the month of April.

Hammel (4-1) escaped a jam in the first before holding the Sox without a hit over the next five frames. He entered the seventh with an 8-0 lead but couldn't finish the inning. He went 6 2/3 and tossed a season-high 115 pitches, allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk while fanning eight. The bullpen allowed four hits but blanked Boston over the final 2 1/3 innings.

The O's have now won back-to-back series in New York and Boston for the first time in 20 years, and can sweep the Sox in Fenway for the first time since 1994 with a win on Sunday afternoon. Tommy Hunter takes the mound for the Birds...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

O's Topple BoSox In 13

The magic continues...

The O's took down the Red Sox 6-4 in 13 innings on Friday night at Fenway Park.

In a battle of the bullpens, the Birds came out on top, as five relievers combined for eight shut-out innings. Starter Wei-Yin Chen was charged with four runs (three earned) in five innings before yielding to the 'pen. Matt Lindstrom, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Troy Patton and Jim Johnson then held Boston's potent offense to just three hits over the final frames. Patton (1-0) picked up the win while Johnson notched his eighth save in as many attempts.

Mark Reynolds went deep for the first time this season, putting the Birds on the board with a solo shot in the third. Reynolds led-off the seventh with a double and later scored, and knocked in the sixth and final run in the 13th with a sac fly. It would be nice if his bat heated up; he committed yet another error at third base in the first inning, one of three O's errors that could have put them out of the game early...

But the Birds battled back all night, coming back from deficits of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3 before taking the lead for good with two runs in the 13th. Chris Davis' RBI single proved to be the game-winner.

The O's (17-9) remain in second place in the division and have now won three straight. Jason Hammel takes the mound on Saturday afternoon as the Birds look to take the series.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Arrieta Brilliant As O's Blank Yanks

Jake Arrieta turned in his best start of the season as the O's cruised to a 5-0, series-clinching victory over the Yankees in New York on Wednesday night.

Arrieta (2-2) tied a career-best with nine strikeouts and didn't issue a walk for the first time this season. He allowed just five hits (all singles) over eight innings and never allowed a runner to reach second base. It was an impressive performance, to say the least.

The staff combined to allow just three runs over the three-game series, and held the Yankees to two runs or fewer for three straight games in New York for the first time since 1978.

Matt Wieters put the Birds on the board with his team-leading seventh homer, a solo shot in the fourth. Wieters added an RBI double in the seventh and went 3-for-4 on the night. Nick Markakis went deep for the first time since the second game of the season, and Robert Andino went three-for-three with a walk and an RBI.

The O's (16-9) are in second place behind Tampa Bay and are off today before starting a three-game series in Boston on Friday night. Wei-Yin Chen will take the mound in Fenway...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Matusz, Buck Victorious

Brian Matusz won his first game of the season, and skipper Buck Showalter the 1,000th of his career, as the Birds cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Yankees in New York on Tuesday night.

Matusz gave up a solo homer to the second batter he faced before settling down, lasting 6 1/3 innings and allowing just the one run on six hits and a walk while striking out four in a 97-pitch outing. Matusz looks better each time he takes the mound, and I'm almost convinced after this start that he has returned to his 2010 form.

He had some help...Chris Davis went deep in the second to tie the game, and J.J. Hardy's two-run shot in the third gave the Birds a 3-1 lead. The O's tacked on three more runs in the sixth and another in the eighth ( off Nick Johnson's first hit of the year, an RBI double) to take a commanding lead.

I was filling in at the station, and was happy to be a (very small) part of history after Buck notched his 1,000th career win right across the street from where he picked up win number one. Showalter tried to downplay the accomplishment, but is only the 58th man in the history of baseball to accomplish the feat.

The Orioles (15-9) are in second place in the East and can pick up another game over New York with a win on Wednesday night. Jake Arrieta looks to give the O's the series win...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hammel Strong But Offense Stalls

Jason Hammel was saddled with his first loss of April after the Birds fell to the Yankees 2-1 on Monday night in New York.

The O's have now lost the first four games against the Yankees this season...two games went into extra innings and two of the four have been decided by just one run. The O's have managed to hang with New York; now they have to figure out a way to beat them.

Strong starting pitching is an obvious answer, and the Birds got it on Monday night. Hammel (3-1) allowed just two runs (a two-run homer) on five hits over six innings of work, walking two and striking out five. A dominant bullpen is a must, and the O's 'pen has been a pleasant surprise this year. Matt Lindstrom pitched the seventh, striking out one, and Jim Johnson returned to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth.

The problem was an anemic offense. The Birds tied season-lows in hits (5) and runs (1) in the loss. There weren't many opportunities, but the O's didn't capitalize when they had the chance. In the seventh, the Orioles had runners on second and third with just one out, but Chris Davis struck out swinging and with Wilson Betemit at the plate, Nick Markakis was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch.

The beautiful thing about baseball is that the O's have another chance tonight...Brian Matusz, looking for his first win of the season, takes the mound in New York.