A single victory does not make up for a six-game losing streak, but it’s a step in the right direction. The Orioles opened a two-game series in Tampa Monday night having lost every game last week. With Adam Eaton facing Tampa stud Scott Kazmir, the O’s chances of ending their losing streak looked grim. But the Orioles finally put all the pieces together, combining an adequate Eaton performance with strong middle relief from the team’s new Mr. Reliable, Danys Baez, with a pair of big homers.
Nick Markakis started the night off right, hitting a 3 run homer in the first inning. Tampa’s Evan Longoria countered with a solo shot, but Eaton was able to preserve the lead until the sixth inning, when he surrendered a leadoff double to Carlos Pena and an RBI single to Willie Aybar.
Eaton was pulled from the game in the sixth inning. He earned a no decision.
In the top of the seventh, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis both singled, then executed a double steal. Aubrey Huff got a sacrifice fly to break the tie and Ty Wigginton recorded an RBI with a double.
Wigginton is still hitting only .213, but his 2 for 5 performance was exactly what the club and fans were waiting to see. Wigginton has only 1 home run in 89 at bats. Last year, he had 23 home runs in 385 at bats.
Danys Baez pitched scoreless sixth and seventh innings. Baez got credit for the win, and he deserved it. As he has being doing every other day lately, Baez dominated, giving up zero hits and one walk. In nine 2009 appearances, Baez has an ERA of 2.30 and a WHIP of 0.77.
You’re the man now, dawg.
The Birds were up by two runs in the eighth inning when Brian Roberts clobbered a towering home run, tacking two additional runs to the team’s lead.
George Sherrill pitched a scoreless ninth inning. With the team winning 8-4, Sherrill was in a non-save situation. Of course, Sherrill still managed to make things interesting, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Sherrill eventually got a ground out and a strike out.
Felix Pie made a diving catch in left field to end the game and the losing streak. Pie made a nice catch, but even in victory Sherrill and Eaton highlighted the reasons why this team will lose more games than it wins. Sherrill was lucky to be able to strike out slumping B.J. Upton. He’s very out of shape and tossing balls straight down the middle. Eaton is just not a great pitcher. He gave up four leadoff hits today. On their better nights, the Rays and other good teams will be able to capitalize.
The Orioles conclude their series against Tampa with an inexplicable 4:08 pm game. They are putting steel-ribbed Koji Uehara on the mound to face the Rays’ Matt Garza.