Friday, April 8, 2011

O's rally in seventh, win 9-5

The Orioles (5-1) have only played six games. It's still early. (And I'm going to keep saying it's early until it's not early anymore.) But in their first five games, the O's didn't do a particularly good job of getting runners on base. That changed yesterday in their 9-5 win over the Tigers: The O's had 10 hits and drew seven walks. Every starter reached based at least once, and six different batters drew walks.

Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, the O's batted around and broke the game open with a five-run inning. In the rally, Vladimir Guerrero singled in a run, Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly, Mark Reynolds doubled in a pair of runs, and Cesar Izturis collected an RBI single. The O's also scored two runs in the second (solo shot by Guerrero and an RBI single by Reynolds) and two in the sixth (two-run shot by Jones). The nine runs are an early season high for the O's, who just had Luke Scott return to the lineup but were without J.J. Hardy for the night (sat out with some tightness in his left side).

Besides the offense, the bullpen was the other hero in the win. Starter Chris Tillman struggled mightily and couldn't make it out of the fifth inning (4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 K, 2 BB). O's radio broadcasters Joe Angel and Fred Manfra also noted that Tillman was sitting around 87-89 with his fastball, which isn't a very good sign. (PitchFx data has his fastball on a downward trend since 2009, but that doesn't include a whole lot of major league pitches. Hopefully his velocity picks up in his next few starts.) After Tillman left, the O's bullpen only allowed one run the rest of the game. Jeremy Accardo was the reliever who gave up that run (in 1.2 innings), but Jim Johnson (1.2 innings) and Koji Uehara (one inning) kept the Tigers off the scoreboard.

(Note: I can't be the only one who's a little worried about Jones. He did reach base twice yesterday, including that home run, but he's seeing pitches at a Guerrero-like rate. I don't think he has the hitting ability to be a mini-Vlad; Guerrero has/had the talent to hit like that his whole career and put up fantastic numbers. In four plate appearances yesterday, Jones only saw eight pitches. Eight! If he goes 2-3 with a home run every game, well then that doesn't matter. But he doesn't always do that, obviously. I'd like for Jones to turn the corner just as most O's fans do, but I'm just not sure it's possible if he's routinely down in the count and swinging at everything in sight.)

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