After taking three of four during the homestand against both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Minnesota Twins, the O’s rallied Thursday night to sweep the Reds 9-7.
Since May 31st, the Orioles are 56-30 which is the best record in MLB. They now have the second best record in baseball (82-57) behind only the Los Angeles Angels (83-55). They have the largest lead, 9 and a half games over the second place New York Yankees, of any division leader in baseball. They are a staggering 25 games over .500.
Their latest victim, the Reds (66-74) put up a fight in two of the three games against the Birds, but still came away losers. In Thursday’s game the Orioles jumped to an early 6-0 lead in the first inning. They scored six runs on four extra base hits in the first inning for the first time this year.
The Reds came back and tied the game at 7-7 in the seventh inning, but the Orioles are hitting on all cylinders these days, and a two-out single by shortstop J.J. Hardy plated two runs and gave the Birds a 9-7 lead in the bottom of the inning. Hardy was the right man to have at the plate, and is now hitting .386 with RISP. All nine Oriole hitters had a least a single. The offense included a three-run homer from catcher Nick Hundley, a two-run homer from Nelson Cruz and a solo shot from Jonathan Schoop who hit a home run in his third straight game.
On the hill, Oriole starter Chris Tillman (11-5) lasted six innings and had six strikeouts. He allowed six hits and only three earned runs while giving up two walks. The usually reliable bullpen let him down in this game.
The first game of the series was won by Baltimore 5-4. Starter Bud Norris (12-8) survived an over two hour rain delay to get the win. He lasted six innings giving up four runs while striking out seven. He now has a 3.83 ERA.
Baltimore was coasting with a 5-0 lead in the eighth inning, but usually reliable reliever Darren O’Day was uncharacteristically wild and gave up a Grand Slam after only allowing one run in his previous 27 games. Britton came in in the ninth to restore order and save the game.
The second game of the series was a 6-0 win by the Birds as Oriole starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-7) pitched his first ever complete game shutout. He was magnificent, going nine innings, allowing only four hits and one walk. He struck out a season-high eight Reds. Gonzalez now has a 3.38 ERA.
The offense was supplied by Chris Davis who had a two-run blast, David Lough who had a solo home run and Schoop who belted a home run 446-feet, the longest home run of the season at Camden Yards.