Friday, August 15, 2008

O's-Tigers, Mora & Huff Is More Than Enough

The O's travel to Detroit to face the Tigers for three after splitting their four-game set in Cleveland. If the Orioles win two of three then they will leave Detroit with a better record than the supposed AL Central contenders. Wasn't someone supposed to score 1,000 runs this year?

Brain Roberts, batting righty against lefty Nate Robertson, flies out to short left-field. Nick grounds one up the middle, but Placido Polanco ranges to his right and makes a nice play to get Markakis at first. Mora drives the ball into the right-center gap and goes all the way to third. Aubrey Huff brings him in with a single pulled through the right side of the infield. Every time Huff comes to the plate with a runner in scoring position I feel like he'll bring him in. Ramon flies out to center, but Chris Waters has an early 1-0 lead to work with.

Curtis Granderson pulls a ball deep but foul, and settles for a single to center in front of Big Lou Montanez, who's thankfully in there for Payton. Polanco bounces one slowly to Castro at short, but even his quick flip and a good relay from Roberts isn't fast enough to get the double play. Fortunately, Magglio Ordonez has so much hair slowing him down that his grounder to short did result in a double play. Waters does what Cabrera couldn't yesterday and gets out of the first with a lead intact.

Kevin Millar takes a pitch on the inside corner for strike three. Luuuke, actually getting to play against a lefty, falls behind 1-2 but hooks a pitch down the line for a double. Big Lou coming up with a runner in scoring position. Robertson gets him swinging on a slider down and in. Juan Castro does a nice job working a walk to bring Roberts up again. Brian Roberts bloops the first pitch in front of Magglio in right - Inge can't handle the throw home and Luke Scott scores. Then Castro comes in as the ball rolls away from the plate, with Roberts going to second. Markakis flies out to short center, but the lead is now 3-0.

Melvin Mora has to go far to his right into foul territory to get a Miguel Cabrera grounder, but has plenty of time to throw him out at first. Gary Sheffield rips a double down the left-field line - the guy still has a very quick bat. One out later Edgar Renteria hits a grounder up that middle that Waters deflects with his glove. Mora gets to it, but not in time to get an out. The grounder by Inge goes to Mora directly, who throws to second for the force. Waters is looking more like he did in his first start than his second one.

How often do you see a guy make a defensive play to end an inning and then homer to start the next one? Melvin Mora hits it out to left, and the lead is 4-0. Millar hits a line-drive into left-center for a two-out double and Luke Scott draws a walk, but Big Lou leaves them stranded.

Ryan Raburn tries to bunt his way on, but Razor makes a strong throw to first to get him. Granderson hits one down the first-base line, and as the ball goes into the corner in right Curtis makes it all the way to third. Polanco grounds to third, where Mora looks Granderson back to the bag before throwing to first for the out. Magglio draws a walk to put runners on the corners for Miguel Cabrera. Waters gets him looking with a nice 3-2 fastball on (just off) the inside corner.

Juan Castro showing some pop with a double over Granderson's head in center. Roberts has a productive at bat, advancing Castro to third with a groundball to second. Nick can't get him in though, as he swings at the first pitch and grounds weakly to second. Mora walks, but Huff grounds out and the O's are kept off the board for the first time.

Castro makes a throwing error to put Renteria on with two outs, but Mora makes a second nice (not outstanding, but solidly good) play of the inning to end the fourth.

Luke Scott draws a two-out walk, but Big Lou strikes out to leave another runner on base.

Granderson gets another hit to right - this time a single - and comes around to score on Polanco's blast into the left-field seats. That cuts the O's lead in half. A bouncer up the middle by Ordonez brings the tying run to the plate. Waters gets Cabrera to pop out, but Sheffield singles between Castro and Mora to put a couple on with two outs. That'll be it Chris, as Dave Trembley will make a call to the bullpen. Lance Cormier will try to get out of the jam. Waters can't even get through five, though he didn't pitch all that badly. Thames grounds a curveball to third, and Mora beats Cabrera to the bag to end the inning. It's now 4-2 Orioles, and it'll be up to the pen to protect that lead.

Juan Castro picks up his second double of the game, this time off the wall in left. Brian Roberts puts down a sac bunt to move him to third - I don't know why, considering he's a good hitter. Robertson slipped attempting to field it but stayed in the game long enough to walk Markakis on four pitches. Alquino Lopez comes in and gives up a sac fly to Mora to make it 5-2. He does get Huff to pop up for the third out, though.

"Jupiter is big enough to have two moons" - O's commentator (I don't know which one) seeing Jupiter in the night sky. Wikipedia says: "Sixty-three moons orbiting Jupiter have been discovered." Good stuff. Oh, and Lance Cormier pitches a scoreless inning - giving up a single but a caught stealing erases the runner.

At the start of the next inning, Amber Theoharris tells Jim Hunter that she looked it up on Wikipedia and Jupiter has 63 moons. I guess I'm just ahead of the game. In the actual game, the O's put a couple runners on but can not score as Big Lou strikes out for the third time. Jay Payton will replace him in center on defense, with Montanez moving to left.

Easy three-up three-down inning for Cormier - he's done a good job to stop the Detroit comeback.

Roberts singles off of new pitcher Casey Fossum to start the eighth. Nick's less than great night continues as he grounds into a 3-6-3 double play. Mora pops out, and the O's need to hold a three-run lead for two more innings.

Jim Johnson in there for the eighth. After several foul balls, he gets Miguel Cabrera to ground out to third. Melvin has handled a lot of chances tonight. JJ looks very good in K'ing Sheffield getting him to chase a curveball for strike two and then blowing him away with a fastball up and in. Singles by Thames and Renteria brings the tying run to the plate in the person of Brandon Inge. A pop-up to Millar keeps the score at 5-2 going into the ninth.

Aubrey Huff's single to left knocks Fossum out of the game, and the Tigers' former closer Todd Jones comes in. After Ramon flies out, Kevin Millar takes a hanging curveball down the left-field line for a double. Jay Payton gets the intentional walk to load the bases for Big Lou. Montanez grounds slowly to first, but Cabrera drops the ball as he tries to throw home and everyone is safe. Castro grounds to short - Renteria tosses to Polanco to second - Polanco's relay to first hits a sliding Montanez in the arm (which was raised while sliding - or intentionally) - it's not called interference, two runs score, and Jim Leyland comes out to argue. Crazy play. Polanco actually gets thrown out of the game during the argument. The call stands and it's 8-2 O's. Back to the action; Roberts walks on four pitches. Markakis battles at the plate and draws a walk of his own. Mora singles to center to score two more. 10-2, and it's way not a save situation anymore. Huff singles to center to score Markakis - that's his second hit of the inning. Ramon grounds out to finally end the inning - Hernandez made two of the three outs in the ninth. I hope JJ stays out there and picks up a save for this one.

Nope, it'll still be Sherrill. Two flyouts, a four-pitch walk, and a strike-out of Maggs is how the ninth goes.

The Orioles took an early lead and never gave it up. Waters looked OK, but he isn't going to be in the team's long-term rotation plans (probably - hopefully). The offense has another big night, with Mora going 3-4 with 4 RBI and Huff adding three hits and 2 RBI of his own. The win moves the Orioles ahead of Detroit by a half-game in the Wild Card standings, though both teams are clearly out of it.

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