Baltimore 6, Detroit 3 (box)
Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t put this one entirely on the bullpen. I mean it’s not as if the offense was fantastic against a pitcher with 15 losses and and ERA of over 5. Certainly when your team gets 10 hits and the benefit of an error, you can expect they scored more than three runs. Thank Wieters that Miguel Cabrera was back in the lineup, else the Orioles may have shut the Tigers out.
Detroit jumped on Kevin Millwood early, thanks to Cabrera. Austin Jackson started the game with an infield hit and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved AJax to third, but Johnny Damon left him there by popping out for the second out. With no reason in the world to pitch to Cabrera, Millwood did anyway and he paid for it as Cabrera drove home Jackson with a double to left.
The O’s got that run back in the top of the second, scoring on a double play ball after consecutive singles had put runners on the corners. The game stayed tied until the fifth when Armando Galarraga hit the first batter of the inning. Two batters later, Jake Fox took Galarraga deep for his seventh long ball of the year.
Trailing 3-1 the Tigers again turned to Cabrera and again he delivered, showing no signs of the shoulder/biceps injury that sidelined him for the past few games.
The Chosen One, Matt Wieters, took pity on the Tigers and allowed Damon’s at bat to continue by dropping a pop-up in foul ground. Damon would eventually walk and Cabrera made the error hurt by launching his 34th home run of the year, tying the game at three.
Considering that as manager of the Diamondbacks, Buck Showalter once intentionally walked Barry Bonds with the bases loaded and his club ahead by two, I have a hard time thinking that Cabrera might see even one more pitch to hit in a big situation for the rest of the weekend.
In fact, Showalter showed his hand there in the very next inning when after Jackson tripled to start the frame, David Hernandez retired the next two on a strikeout and yet another Damon pop-up. Wisely, Cabrera was walked to put the onus on Ryan Raburn, who promptly struck out.
With that chance wasted, it felt like the Tigers would find a way to lose this one. Phil Coke made sure there would be no doubts.
After retiring the first batter of the eighth, Coke allowed the next two to reach via single. A wild pitch put runners at second and third and an intentional walk to the lefty-hitting Luke Scott loaded the bases with one out for Wieters.
It was Coke, however, that performed the miracle and kept Wieters in the yard, but his fly ball gave the Orioles the lead. Obviously sapped of his strength after facing off against the Immortal One, Coke had to be removed from the game. Robbie Weinhardt came in and immediately put the game out of reach, allowing another runner to score on a single by Adam Jones.
The lesson here is that while Wieters is at times kind and forgiving (see Damon’s dropped pop-up), you do not anger him by walking a left handed batter to get to Wieters. A lesson the Tigers surely have learned.
Galarraga turned in another very good outing. He wasn’t perfect, but he seems to have turned a corner over the second half of the season. Rod Allen talked about how Galarraga learned from his near-perfect game that even without his best stuff, he could pitch successfully by attacking the strike zone instead of nibbling at the corners. It takes some pitchers longer than others to figure this out, some never do. If Galarraga really has changed his mindset on the mound, perhaps he’ll be in the rotation again next year.
If he pitches then like he has recently, he’ll be a welcome sight every fifth day.