Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sloppy in Tampa

Melvin Mora laid down a bunt in the first that got him all the way to third after the third baseman overthrew first and B. J. Upton fell down trying to retrieve the ball. Mora was stranded at third however.

A comedy (or tragedy) of errors in the third as Huff botched a grounder, then threw the ball away over Loewen's head as he covered first. Then Paul Bako got the ball and threw it away again trying to get Crawford at the plate. Two unearned runs...(sigh)

Adam Loewen did not have his command tonight. He pitched well to get out of a bases loaded jam in the third (that was not really his fault) but could not survive the same situation in the 4th as he walked Crawford with the bases loaded and was subsequently pulled. (On a positive note, Nick Markakis made another great diving catch in the 4th inning going full speed up and to his left to snowcone the ball barely before it hits the turf.)

Jeremy Guthrie provided no relief though as, on his first pitch, he gave up a bases clearing double to Ty Wigginton and six runs were on the board for Tampa. Guthrie would give up another in a shaky 5th. Overall though, Guthrie was able to settle down, pitch 2+ innings and keep the bleeding to a minimum. Pretty nice we didn't have to use him yesterday, huh?

Baltimore clawed their way back in with an RBI groundout by Melvin Mora in the 5th and an improbable two-run homer by Freddie Bynum in the 6th. With two outs in the 6th, Kevin Millar was patient as always, drawing the walk allowing Bynum a crack at Shields. The O's were within 4.

In the 7th, Brian Roberts led off and slapped a grounder through the right side and Mora made Shields pay for a mistake as he deposited one in the rightfield stands to bring the O's within 2, 7-5. Markakis was absolutely robbed of a double down the rightfield line by Ty Wigginton. (Wigginton did the same to Aubrey Huff earlier in the game...). Tejada then came up and doubled, Huff blooped one into center and was able to take second since 2B B. J. Upton left the bag open to pursue the ball. With men on 2nd and 3rd, Jay Gibbons lined one to center, doubling in Tejada and Huff to tie the game. Millar walked and ball four was a wild pitch that allowed Gibbons to advance to third. Bynum grounded out as Gibbons scored to take the 8-7 lead!

And right about here my network connection went all flaky and I couldn't see the rest of the game. The bullpen did another good job as Bradford, Parrish and Mr. Reluctant shut the Rays down and got the ball to Chris Ray who closed them out. Aubrey Huff added an insurance run with a solo homer in the 9th.

Don't look now but the O's are now over .500 for the first time in nearly a year, are the hottest team in the AL and a mere game out of first in the AL East.

Casey Fossum is lined up next like so much raw meat...

The WPA graph is here and reflects the wild swings the game took. Jay Gibbons proved to be the most influencial batter while Mr. Reluctant pitched in the most high leverage situations.

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