Orioles expect to win close games
BOSTON – They headed to New York with huge smiles on their faces. The one-run wins are back, the big hitters are producing, and the Orioles are feeling good about themselves.
On Wednesday night, it was a five-run ninth inning for a stirring win, and 24 hours later, a methodical win that brought back memories of the shutdown 2012 bullpen.
Thanks to Adam Jones’ seventh-inning double and shutdown relief pitching, the Orioles took two of three from the Boston Red Sox. Their 3-2 win on Thursday night before 27,704 at Fenway Park wasn’t particularly artistic, but it was effective.
Jones, who has hit in all nine games, has multi-hit games in six of them.
“Any win is important early. It’s just a matter of time before that one-run stuff,” Jones said. “We don’t choose what kind of games we play.”
The bullpen has been stalwart since Tommy Hunter allowed back-to-back home runs on Wednesday. Since then, it has retired 21 of 23 batters to help win two crucial games.
Jim Johnson had saves in the last two games, and he has four this season.
“I think [Wednesday] night was just one of those games where it’s a good game to win just because of the comeback more than anything. Whether it’s a one-run game, it really means nothing. A win is a win. That’s all that really matters. If you want to look for a certain type of victory, those comeback wins carry a little bit more weight than anything,” Johnson said.
Chris Davis hit his sixth home run in nine games with one out in the second. Davis is more than halfway to Brady Anderson’s club record for most home runs in a month, 11 set in April 1996. He also has 13 home runs in his last 16 regular season games.
“You want to have that pass the baton mentality. I don't think our guys feel like one guy's got to do it and that's a good mentality to have. Someone else is going to pick them up. I don't think anyone feels like they're carrying the load," manager Buck Showalter said.
In the bottom of the third, the Red Sox (5-4) took a 2-1 lead off Chris Tillman. After Stephen Drew walked to lead off, three consecutive singles by Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli scored two runs.
The Orioles tied the score against Alfredo Aceves, who was making his first start since June 21, 2011 in the fifth. With one out, Manny Machado singled and Jones drove him home with two outs in the fifth.
Clayton Mortensen (0-1) replaced Aceves after five. Aceves allowed two runs and six hits, walking three and striking out four.
Tillman pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out five.
“A lot of our wins were one-run wins last year. But a win's a win. Blow them out, one run, it's the same to us. Tonight was huge,” Tillman said.
Brian Matusz (1-0) replaced him and struck out the two batters he faced. Pedro Strop allowed one hit in the seventh. Darren O’Day threw a perfect ninth, and Johnson allowed one hit in the ninth and held on for his fourth save.
Since moving to the bullpen last August, Matusz hasn’t allowed any of his 17 inherited runners score.
“I came in a little jacked up. tough situation,” Matusz said. “It was huge. It was a crucial situation in the game right there. They had a little momentum going their way and to be able to stop it right there. And obviously our offense came back and scored a run for us. It was a crucial part and it was a nice way to end it there.”
In the seventh, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead against Mortensen. After he got the first two outs, Machado singled, Nick Markakis walked and Jones doubled to left to score Machado.
Jones is batting .462 with 10 RBIs.
“I feel good at the plate. I’m not trying to really turn and burn it, I’m trying to make solid contact and keep that in my concept. Hit the ball and not try and not necessarily try and hit the ball out of the park, just hit the ball hard and wherever it goes, live with the results,” Jones said.
NOTES: Davis’ 19 RBIs in nine games are the most in recorded history.
-The Orioles have won five straight series at Fenway Park.
-Kevin Gausman allowed a run and two hits in six innings in Bowie’s 5-1 win over Akron. It was his first professional win. He struck out five and walked none. Gausman hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.