The Baltimore Orioles continued their recent power surge by hitting four home runs, including three in the 11th inning, to blow past the Nationals 8-2 in the four-game series opener Monday night.
The first seven innings featured the sort of pitcher’s duel one would expect from Stephen Strasburg and Chris Tillman matching up. Each threw seven good innings, and each gave up a two-run homer – Strasburg to Nelson Cruz in the fourth inning, and Tillman to Anthony Rendon in the sixth.
The Nats had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning as Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out double, but Darren O’Day pitched his way out of it with strikeouts of Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos – sending the game to extra innings. O’Day’s two innings would extend his consecutive scoreless innings streak to a total of 10.
After turning over the game to T.J. McFarland to hold down Washington in the 10th, the Orioles exploded in the top of the 11th. It all started with a broken-bat single by Cruz. And then the struggling Chris Davis came to bat … yes, the first baseman who sat the bench yesterday, was 0-for-4 today, and whose average had fallen below .200 during the game. He caught one in the sweet spot, driving it deep into the stands to the right of center field, giving the O’s a 4-2 lead.
J.J. Hardy followed immediately with his third homer of the year. 5-2.
And finally, Manny Machado topped off the first 5-for-5 of his career with a home run to left field. 8-2, the final score, as McFarland finished the game and gained the win.
The most gratifying moment for me was to see the Davis home run, and not just because it is good to see him bust out of a slump and make the critical offensive contribution. My brother – a Nats fan – was at the game and put the picture to the right on his Facebook page. I commented early in the game that Chris Davis would be hitting a ball to him at that spot at some point in the game. And from the angle you can see that this calling of the homer ranks right up there with Babe Ruth pointing to the wall before his famous “called shot.” Yes, I can do that.
For Norris, this will be his first start as he comes off the DL from the groin strain. Though Norris has been mostly solid the whole year, it is always scary to see a first start coming back from an injury.
Norris is 2-0 in three starts against the Nationals, giving up eight runs on 21 hits over 19.2 innings. Half of the Nats have never faced him including Bryce Harper; and Jason Werth is only 2-for-14. But Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-11 with two homers, Wilson Ramos is 3-for-9, and Adam LaRoche 2-for-5.
Fister is 3-2 in six starts against the Orioles, giving up 21 runs on 43 hits over 35.2 innings. The former Detroit Tigers pitcher is 7-2 on the season for the Nats with a 2.93 ERA. This will be his 12th start – eight of the first 11 have been quality starts.
Against Fister, Nick Markakis is 8-for-19 with two doubles and a homer, and Nelson Cruz is 8-for-24 with two doubles and a homer. Delmon Young is 4-for-15 with a double and homer, Adam Jones is 5-for-14, Chris Davis is 3-for-10 with two homers; but J.J. Hardy is 4-for-22 with two doubles.
The Orioles picked up another game on the Blue Jays who lost to the Angels and thereby drop to three games behind the Birds. The Yankees won and are only a half-game behind Toronto. The Rays were defeated, as were the last-place Red Sox… oh yes, that was a fun line to type. Let that last phrase roll around your tongue and lips … say it out loud … “last-place Red Sox.” Don’t you feel better now?