Friday, May 16, 2008

O's-Nats, Olson King Of The Hill

It's been a while since I watched an O's game live. Tonight it'll be game one of the Beltway Series - Garrett Olson opposes Shawn Hill.

Felipe Lopez pulls a pitch through the left side for a single; Christian Guzman pulls one into left for a ground-rule double; and Ryan Zimmerman pulls one down the left-field line for a single. Three batters in, and it's 2-0 Nationals. Olson settles down, retiring the next three hitters (including getting Aaron Boone swinging on a very good fastball at the knees).

I've only occasionally seen the Nats play, but from everything I've heard, Zimmerman is an excellent defensive third baseman. He shows it, charging a slow roller off the bat of Melvin Mora and smoothly throwing him out at first. 1-2-3 go the O's in the first.

Jesus Flores lines one right over Olson's head for a single. Next up is Wily Mo Pena - he hits a line-drive too, but Brian Roberts makes a diving catch to retire him. Elijah Dukes swings at the first pitch and grounds into a double play to end the inning. Five pitch inning for Garrett.

Aubrey Huff barely beats out a grounder that Aaron Boone can't initially handle at first, but the umpire calls him out - it was bang-bang. Millar does his thing and works a walk. With two outs, Ramon bloops a single into left. Millar takes too wide of a turn around second though, and gets thrown out to end the inning. More bad baserunning from the O's.

A Zimmerman single off a diving Mora's glove is all the Nats get in the third.

Another deflected ball - this one off of Hill's glove - results in an infield single for Adam Jones. Bynum goes down swinging on a fastball down and away. Brian Roberts gets a pitch down and away, and flicks it over the third baseman for a single. Mora walks to load the bases for Kakes. For some reason the runners were moving on the pitch - no harm, no foul, I guess. Nick protects on a pitch just off the outside corner (thanks for not striking out looking) and grounds it to third. The throw to second gets Mora, but the relay goes past Young at first allowing another run to score. That ties the game at 2-2, and Markakis gets an RBI (since it wasn't a double play).

Another inning starts with a line-drive single - this one off the bat of Boone. Bynum's less than strong arm is on display as he ranges to his right but can't throw out Lastings Milledge (who is admittedly a fast runner). Flores singles to right to load the bases with nobody out. Houdini time. One down, as Wily Mo strikes out on three pitches. Matt Albers is warming in the pen - it seems a bit early for that. Dukes flies deep to left to bring in the Nationals' third run. Lopez lines out to center to end the threat. Not a Houdini, but the damage was kept low. Olson has given up three runs on eight hits, but he hasn't walked a batter and hasn't looked bad at all (not too good either, though).

Now that's the power I was waiting for. Luuuuuuke (too many 'u's?) ties the game with a home run. He got a low and away pitch and launched it into right-center. Adam Jones picks up his second hit of the game with a single to left. Wily Mo dives (probably unnecessarily) to retire Bynum and end the inning.

Melvin ranges far to his right (into foul territory) and throws out Guzman to start the fifth. Nice play. Now it's Bynum going to the outfield grass to field a Zimmerman grounder. The throw pulls Millar off that bag though, and Ryan has his third hit. Young goes down swinging on three pitches. Olson hits Boone with a curveball that broke too far, but makes up for it be spearing a liner off the bat of Millidge.

Nice start to the bottom of the fifth, as Brian triples off the scoreboard in right. Mora lifts a ball to right-center, but neither outfielder makes a play on it and Mora is in there with an RBI double. Markakis goes down looking - it was indeed a strike but he clearly thought it wasn't. Too bad he couldn't move Mora to third. Huff grounds back to Hill, who catches Mora in between second and third. Good job by Melvin to at least get into a rundown long enough to allow Huff to go to second. Millar comes though with the two-out single to bring in Huff. More bad baserunning though, as Kevin gets thrown out trying to go to second. Still, the O's have taken a 5-3 lead.

That's it for Olson, as Albers comes in from the pen. Garrett's final line: 5 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K; only 70 pitches with 51 going for strikes. Not a bad day at all. Albers isn't throwing strikes and walks Flores. He continues not throwing strikes, but Dukes and Lopez help him out by going down swinging. I imagine he'll be back for another inning - hopefully the Nats don't decide to take some pitches.

Matt Chico relieves Hill and retires the Birds in order.

With two outs, Dmitri Young singles into the Bermuda Triangle in short left field. Albers gets Boone swinging for the third out. That's three K's for Matt, in two innings. He and JJ give the O's two very good long-men in the pen.

Another 1-2-3 inning for Chico.

Albers is still in there, and the Nats are still swinging. Millidge grounds to deep short, but again Bynum can't throw his out from the outfield grass. He seems to have OK range, but the arm isn't shortstop quality. Not that too many guys would have gotten Millidge there. That'll be it for Matt - he did a good job. Looks like JJ has become the teams official set-up man, as he is brought in in the eighth. That kind of makes Bradford and/or Walker expendable. Johnson gets Flores looking with a knee-buckler. Another bender gets Pena swinging. Man, has he looked good this year. That's why you don't spend a lot of money on mediocre relievers - get a bunch of fringe starters and castoffs and see what sticks. The list of guys who have struggles as starters but turned into solid relievers is pretty darn long. Oh the movement. A 2-2 fastball at the knees gets Dukes looking, as JJ strikes out the side. Very impressive.

Nick Markakis starts the eighth with a rare double - that's just his 5th of the year. Strange, since he had 43 last year. Huff flies out to center, and Kakes does a nice job tagging and going to third. Millar can't bring him in, as new pitcher Jesus Colome gets him swinging. Jay Payton (in for defense the previous inning for Scott) grounds out on the first pitch to leave Nick stranded. It'll be George Sherrill time in the ninth with the 5-3 lead.

Lopez grounds to Millar, with Sherrill covering first - one out. Guzman pops out to second - two outs. And that's it, as Zimmerman lines one right to Millar at first. That O's are lifting up the bills of their hats, and that mean Sherrill picks up his 16th save of the year. The O's continue their winning ways, taking the first game of the series 5-3. Olson battle through five and gets the win, with Albers and Johnson providing quality work out of the pen. Not that it's really appropriate, but I think I'm gonna watch that Orioles Magic video again.

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