The Orioles on Monday night earned their 70th win of the season – quite an amazing accomplishment based on what many predicted in the winter. They beat a tough, gritty Chicago team that is leading American League Central and have won their third game in a row.
Two role players – Nate McLouth and Lew Ford came up huge on the night. Considering both guys were in baseball wilderness in the winter, it fits with the mantra on how the Orioles have been so successful this season. Everyone seems to play a role, and someone comes to the table and steps it up.
It seems like a new hero comes through to shine on a daily basis.
Both men would hit critical homers, but McLouth’s shot – a two-run homer in the eighth inning – would put the Orioles on top.
With the win on the night, the Orioles are now in second place in the American League East. They are only 3 ½ games behind the slumping New York Yankees, after trailing by ten about a month ago. Both Baltimore and Oakland have the wild card spots as of now.
It’s still hard to believe that the Orioles are 70-57 and finally playing some meaningful baseball right now.
Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen pitched well enough to win, as he went six innings; however, he had a mistake-filled sixth inning and gave up a two-run homer to Chicago third Kevin Youkilis.
Lew Ford’s solo homer in the second put Baltimore on the board, 1-0. By the way things were going on the mound; you knew it was going to be a close battle on the night between the two teams.
However, in the sixth inning, things unraveled for Chen. Mark Reynolds made a diving play after DeWayne Wise hit a sharp ground ball to him; alas, Chen – while he was trying to cover first base – dropped the ball. A minute or so later, Kevin Youkilis took Chen deep and gave the White Sox a 2-1 lead.
Much like he done has in the past, Youkilis, has the hurt Orioles. And he did it again on Monday night.
The Orioles mounted a comeback in the seventh inning and tied the game at two, thanks to Chicago reliever Jesse Crain’s ineffectiveness. He walked two batters in the frame, and gave Nate McLouth a free pass to tie the game at two.
Then, the game would come down to a battle of the bullpens.
Pedro Strop, in the top of the eighth inning, allowed the leadoff runners to get on. Wise reached base on a single, and then advanced to third off a Kevin Youkilis single to right. Wise would score as Adam Dunn hit a perfectly placed, infield single and second baseman Robert Andino was unable to make a play at first base.
Chicago would take a 3-1 lead.
The frame ended without much more damage for the Orioles; however, in the bottom of the eighth, Oriole Park exploded thanks to McLouth. With Mark Reynolds on base via walk, he took Chicago reliever Brett Myers deep with a two-run homer to left field that gave Baltimore a 4-3 advantage.
Jim Johnson came in and earned yet another save – his 40th of the season. Strop (5-2) would earn the win relief; meanwhile, Myers (2-2) took the loss.
Once again, the Orioles pulled out another close one – amazingly.
The one other question I have on my mind is where are the fans?
Only 10,955 bothered to show up at Oriole Park? I understand it is a school night and all, but really?
Isn’t this now the time as fans we’d all like to support the Orioles? I mean, if the Orioles make it into October, could there be a possibility that games aren’t sold out???