A loss tonight and the defending NL East Champion Washington Nationals were a .500 team again. 4-6 in their last ten and 1-2 against their regional rivals from Baltimore, the Nats were in danger of giving up sole possession of second place in the NL East as well, if they lost and the Philadelphia Phillies could beat the Boston Red Sox. The game began with Orioles' right-hander Freddy Garcia on the mound against Nationals' leadoff man, Denard Span. A 2-2 change inside got Span swinging for the first out of the finale of the four-game, two-city series. 15 pitches got Garcia through the top of the first. Dan Haren then took the mound in Orioles Park at Camden Yards, where eight home runs total were hit last night, tied for 5th in the majors and second in the NL in HRs allowed with 12 surrendered so far in 56.1 IP in 2013.
The first hit of the game off the Nats' right-handed starter was a hard-hit double to center by O's leadoff batter Nate McLouth. Manny Machado had the ghost of Earl Weaver cussing in the great beyond when he bunted McLouth over with no one out in the first, and the home team didn't even get the one run they were playing for, to paraphrase the legendary skipper, when each of the next two batters lined out to end the first. 13 pitches by Haren, 0-0 after one.
The Nationals' first hit of the game was a bloop single to center off Adam LaRoche's bat. Ian Desmond bunted for a hit instead of giving himself up, and reached first safely as LaRoche moved up, putting two on for Tyler Moore with no one out in the top of the second. Moore's groundout moved both runners into scoring position for Nats' bench bat Chad Tracy. A fly to left wasn't deep enough for LaRoche to try for home. A pop to J.J. Hardy behind short ended the inning with the two runners that reached with no one out stranded. Dan Haren got three fly balls to left, one of them hit hard, but all of them caught by Tyler Moore in a nine-pitch second that had him at 22 total after two scoreless vs the Orioles.
After Danny Espinosa helped the Orioles' starter's cause by bunting back to the mound for an out on the first pitch of the third, Freddy Garcia got help from his right fielder Nick Markakis, who made a diving catch on a potential gapper off Denard Span's bat. Garcia got a groundout to first from Roger Bernadina for out no.3 of a quick seven-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. Ryan Flaherty singled by a diving Espinosa on the first pitch of the Orioles' third. Dan Haren threw an 85 mph full-count cutter by Steve Pearce for the first out of the inning. Roger "The Shark" Bernadina was on his horse (which is an odd image) when he tracked down a fly to right by Nate McLouth on the track for out no.2, but Manny Machado's two-out fly to left found the outfield grass for the Orioles' third hit off the Nationals' right-hander. Nick Markakis stepped in with runners on second and third and doubled to right to drive Flaherty in for a 1-0 lead. A swinging K by Adam Jones stranded two runners. 20-pitch inning for Haren. 42 pitches overall.
A sweeping 2-2 slider dove under Ryan Zimmerman's bat for the first out of the fourth. Chris Davis LaRoche'd Adam LaRoche with a stabbing play on a sharp grounder to first by his counterpart on the Nationals. A 78 mph 1-2 splitter got Ian Desmond swinging for Freddy Garcia's ninth straight out after LaRoche and Desmond's back-to-back hits started the second. Chris Davis rolled a weak grounder out to Ian Desmond at second in the shift to start the Orioles' fourth. A knee-high fastball to Matt Wieters got Dan Haren a called strike three and out no.2 and Ryan Zimmerman snapped up a J.J. Hardy line drive to end a 17-pitch inning that had Haren at 59 pitches overall.
Tyler Moore K'd swinging at a 79 mph 0-2 slider. Chad Tracy was not even close to the 0-2 splitter he K'd swinging over. Kurt Suzuki's grounder to third made it 12 in-a-row retired by Freddy Garcia, whose 13-pitch fifth had him at 66 overall after 5.0 scoreless innings in OPACY. Ryan Flaherty grounded out to second to start the home-half of the fifth. Steve Pearce missed a 3-2 fastball from Haren for the Nats' starter's fourth K, but Nate McLouth kept the O's half of the inning alive when he threw his bat at an 0-2 cutter and singled on a weak pop to center field. Manny Machado grounded out to Ian Desmond two pitches later, and Haren was through a 13-pitch frame at 72 overall.
Danny Espinosa grounded out to first on the first pitch of the sixth. Denard Span popped out to Manny Machado in foul territory in front of the third base dugout. Roger Bernadina ripped into a full-count fastball from Freddy Garcia and bounced a single off the right field wall to end the O's starter's streak at 14 in-a-row retired. Ryan Zimmerman's groundout to second made it 15 of the last 16 retired by the Orioles' right-hander who was at 81 pitches with a three-hit shutout and a 1-0 lead after five and a half. Adam Jones took an 0-2 cutter back up the middle for a ground ball single by the left side of the second base bag. Chris Davis stepped in with a man on and grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3. 1-0 O's after six. The 12-pitch inning had Haren at 84 pitches after six.
Freddy Gonzalez was at 94 pitches total with 18 of the last 19 set down when he retired Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond and Tyler Moore in order in a 13-pitch frame. Dan Haren needed just 12 pitches to retire Orioles in order in the bottom of the inning and he was at 96 overall, down 1-0 after seven in Camden Yards. Freddy Garcia had retired 21 of the last 22 batters he'd faced after he set Chad Tracy, Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa in order in the top of the eighth. A 19-pitch inning had him at 113 total on the night.
Steve Pearce K'd swinging at a 2-2 splitter for the first out of the O's eighth, but Nate McLouth (3 for 4 tonight) doubled on a broken bat blooper to right with one down. A double to left by Manny Machado brought McLouth in for a 2-0 O's lead and the end of Dan Haren's night. Fernando Abad got a pop to short right that Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa let drop between them, putting runners on second and third. Drew Storen came on to face Adam Jones, and got a sharp grounder to second that Danny Espinosa knocked down before stepping on second and throwing to first... in time for an inning-ending 4-3 DP. 2-0 Orioles.
O's closer Jim Johnson got a groundout to second from Denard Span to start the ninth. Roger Bernadina K'd swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to third. Ballgame.
2-0 Orioles final.
6-2 Red Sox over the Phillies after seven...
Nationals now 27-27