Life just got even better. We swept the four-game series. We cleaned up and cleaned out. If the Orioles thought they were demoralized before this series, you should see them now.
Kyle Weiland got the nod to make his Major League debut yesterday afternoon. The kids down on the farm probably get so excited when they see a pitcher in the rotation go down, because that’s what it means. It means desperation so severe they might just get a shot at the big show.
Weiland pitched four innings. He allowed six runs on eight hits. He walked two. He struck out two. He threw seventy-eight pitches, forty-two for strikes. Even for a Major League debut, it wasn’t great.
He gave up all six runs in the second inning. Vlad Guerrero grounded out to begin the inning. Then he issued a five-pitch walk and gave up a home run on the very first pitch of his very next at-bat. A double and a single followed, followed by an RBI single. Then another groundout. Then three consecutive RBI singles before a flyout ended the inning. It was pretty ugly. In that frame, the man had absolutely no command to speak of.
So obviously that inning erased the two-run lead we’d put together in the first. The bases were loaded for Papi, who singled in only one run. Reddick then mustered a sac fly. At least it was something.
We tied the game in the bottom of the second, so the Orioles’ exultancy didn’t last long. The bottom of the inning began and ended the same way the top of the inning did: with a groundout and a flyout. But we did plenty of damage in between. Scutaro hit a solo shot. It was a fastball middle-in, and he lobbed it into the first row of Monster seats. It was a golf swing, basically. Ellsbury flied out. Pedroia hit a solo shot to extend his hitting streak to twelve games. He bounced a slider off the billboard above the Monster. Then Gonzalez doubled, and Youk hit a home run. It was a fastball right down the middle, and Adam Jones just watched the ball hit the seat cover in center field.
That was it until the fourth, when the bases were again loaded for Papi. He walked on eight pitches. It was a masterful at-bat and a huge embarrassment for Baltimore.
Lastly, Drew singled and scored on a single by Ellsbury in the seventh.
It was Aceves who picked up the win after hurling three immaculate frames. Forty-one pitches and four strikeouts. A spotless outing. After that, Bard got the hold and Paps shut the door and earned the save.
But it would be criminal to stop there. There is so much more to the story.
Weiland did come out for the fifth inning. That second inning was absolutely terrible, but he since regained his composure. Jones began the inning with a triple; Guerrero came up next. For the second time that afternoon, Weilanddrilled a batter. The third pitch of the at-bat hit Guerrero on the right hand. (At least Guerrero, unlike Mark Reynolds, did not have to leave the game due to a resultant injury.) So Weiland, in what was one of the most absurd, nonsensical, and completely excessive excuse of a judgment call I have ever seen on the part of an umpire, was ejected. Really? Seriously? This is a new low if I’ve ever seen one. The kid is making his Major League debut. He’s nervous. He clearly doesn’t have his best stuff. And suddenly he has the ability to control his pitches to such an extent that he can purposefully drill a hitter on the hand? Besides, what motivation could he possibly have? Why would anyone making their Major League debut feel any shred of need to pull such a stunt? Sure, Jeremy Guthrie hit Youk the inning before on the elbow, but clearly that was also accidental. It was a changeup. It went inside. Nobody on either team acted at all like it occurred to anybody that it might have been on purpose. So there’s no way this could have been retaliation. If this were a veteran control artist, you could conceivably make a case. But given the circumstances, there is absolutely no chance. It’s quite possible that, as a direct result, Weiland was robbed of his first Major League win. As per the rules (which state that, after a warning issued to a team, a subsequent ejection automatically includes the manager), Tito was also ejected.
In the sixth inning, Michael Gonzalez, who’d come on in relief for the O’s, threw behind Papi. Now, Michael Gonzalez is not someone who is making his Major League debut and who has absolutely no motivation to pull such a stunt. Michael Gonzalez is simply a relief pitcher who should not have thrown behind Papi but disregarded the warnings and did anyway because of his role in the brawl on Saturday. So even though Papi hardly batted an eye in reaction, Gonzalez was also ejected, but this time deservedly so. And again, as per the rules, Buck Showalter was also automatically ejected.
So we won, 8-6. We’re extremely furious at a blatant disregard of baseball justice. We’re happy that Lester has received his second All-Star bid since Felix Hernandez’s schedule dictates that he’ll be unavailable, even though Lester won’t actually pitch in the All-Star game since he’s injured (Ricky Romero will take his place). We’ve won our last six games and ten of our last eleven. We’re in first place. So far this month we’ve averaged about seven runs per game. And now we’ve got the All-Star break. We’re at the halfway point of the season in a great position. Given the way we started out, who would have thought?