Thursday, April 17, 2008

O's-White Sox, Never Give Up - Never Surrender

I listened to the first part of the game on the radio, and it sounded like Gavin Floyd had a very good curveball going as he retired the first 12 batters he faced. The O's were down 2-0, and Guthrie was pitching OK. I turned the TV on in the bottom of the sixth, just in time to see Nick Markakis turn on an inside pitch and hit it over the right field scoreboard for a game-tying two run homer. Markakis is a very good hitter - pitch him away and he'll hit it to left; pitch him middle-away and he can hit it out to left-center; pitch him in and he can pull those hands in and hit it out to right.

Jeremy Guthrie came out for the seventh, trying to stay in long enough to get the win. That didn't work out too well as Carlos Quentin homered to give the White Sox a 3-2 lead. Not content to leave it at one, the next batter (Joe Crede) homered to left as well to make it 4-2. Just that fast, they have a two run lead again, and Dennis Sarfate is in to relieve Guthrie. Sarfate gives up an infield single to Orlando Cabrera and a walk to Thome, but blows away Paul Konerko to end the inning. Sarfate has great stuff, and the ball really explodes out of his hand - if he can keep it in the general proximity of the strike-zone then he could be a very good reliever.

With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Guillermo Quiroz works a walk and Jay Payton pinch-hits for the Pelican, against Octavio Dotel. It's sad that there isn't a left-handed batter available on the bench. Payton lines one to center to bring Brian Roberts up as the go-ahead run. Roberts gets called out on "strikes" (I don't think any of the three pitches he took were in the zone. The last one wasn't even close.) to end the rally.

Dye gets blown away on a 3-2 fastball. I use that expression for Sarfate a lot, but that's really what it is. He's not just striking them out like Guthrie did; he's really blowing the fastball by the hitters. You see, when he doesn't blow it by them, the hitter can put a good swing on it. Like Quentin did, hitting an opposite field home run to make it 5-2. Sarfate comes back to K Crede, but the O's need 3 to tie now.

Two down in the inning and Millar strikes out. The ball gets away from the catcher and Millar takes off for first, with the throw pulling the first baseman off the bag. Good hustle to get on, and it pays off as Luke Scott gets yet another double, deep off the wall in right, to bring him in. 5-3 now, with Huff coming up as the tying run. This umpire's strike-zone is really not very good. If it's just low or outside it's a strike. If it's right down the middle then it's a ball. Huff works the count full and strikes out. (I wrote that last part before he actually struck out - Huff has not looked good at the plate recently.) They get one back, but will need at least two off of Jenks in the ninth - just like yesterday.

Jamie Walker gives up a walk but gets a double play, and the O's are going to the bottom of the ninth down two.

Adam Jones gets called out looking on a curveball at the knees. Quiroz gets an infield single to bring the tying run up - Joe Crede got to the ball way behind third base, but couldn't throw him out. Ramon Hernandez is in there for Fahey - who would play short in the event of a tie game? I know it's not as important as not losing, but I'm just curious. Maybe Huff would move to third with Mora moving over. In any case, Ramon grounds out to first. Brian Roberts will need to do something against Jenks. And he does - after falling behind 0-2 he gets a breaking ball over the plate and doubles to right. That makes it 5-4 with Melvin Mora coming up and the tying run in scoring position. Mora works the count full, and single up the middle. Roberts comes in to score, and the game is now tied at 5-5 with Nick Markakis coming up. Another ninth inning comeback? It ends with Markakis missing a breaking ball for strike three. So who will play short?

It is indeed Mora, as I was correct. Huff is at third, and the O's no longer have a DH now. Or a pinch-hitter. Thome goes down swinging on a fastball. I guess Sherrill figures that if he K's every batter than the guy playing short doesn't matter. Konerko flies out to left. I don't know if Trembley thought about this, but with Mora at short it makes sense to bring in a fly ball pitcher, which Sherrill is. Dye draws a walk, but Pierzynski pops out to Huff at third.

Millar does his thing and works a lead-off walk. Then Luuuuuke does his thing (well, second, after hitting doubles) and has a long at bat before drawing a free pass of his own. That puts the winning run at second with no outs, but it's Millar so it may take a double to score him. Aubrey Huff is coming up, and I don't have a lot of faith here as he is facing a LOOGY in Boone Logan. Huff hits it hard, but can't advance the runner to third as he flies out to left. On his way to first, and then the dugout, Huff hits himself in the head and tosses his helmet. Adam Jones would really win a place in O's fan's hearts with a hit here. And he does! Jones rips a ball just fair down the left field line. Millar scores easily, and the O's have anther come-from-behind win, 6-5. They split the two game series with Chicago (actually, they've split all three 2 game sets they've had). Great job by the team. I know that they didn't want to lose games last year, but it just seems like they never give up this year. The team is now 9-7, and are hosting the Yankees for three starting Friday.

While he may be more amiable, I actually preferred hearing Bedard's interviews to Markakis'. I liked it when Bedard would give short blunt answers to questions and kind of make fun of the stupid ones - much better than hearing Kakes say "you know" after every other word. He'll get better at it, but frankly, I don't really care. I just that I'd mention it.

No comments: