WP: Bruce Chen (9-6)
LP: Doug Waechter (4-8)
S: B.J. Ryan (25)
BAL: 56-58 (4th in AL East, 10.5 behind Boston)
Bruce Chen threw seven excellent innings, only giving up two runs that came on a controversial home run call as the Orioles completed the sweep of the Devil Rays with a 4-2 win.
Chen gave up only three hits, struck out five and walked none to get his ninth win of the season.
The O's had a 3-0 lead through four innings after a David Newhan RBI single in the second inning and a Luis Matos RBI single in the fourth that was followed by a run-scoring balk from Tampa Bay pitcher Doug Waechter.
The Devil Rays cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning when Eduardo Perez hit a deep fly ball to left field that appeared at first look to bounce off of a standing fan and back into the field of play. It was initially ruled a double, but the umpires convened and called it a home run. Replays, however, showed that the ball went through the fan's outstretched arms and bounced off the very top of the wall and back into play, so the initial call would have been the correct call. Interim manager Sam Perlozzo bursted out of the dugout to argue the call, but to no avail.
In the sixth inning, the Orioles made it 4-2 when Javy Lopez crushed a fastball down the middle for a solo homer.
After getting his first Major League hit on Wednesday, Alejandro Freire picked up two more last night. He is now 3-for-12 with the Orioles.
Chen worked the first three innings perfect, and it was the second night in a row that an Orioles pitcher was perfect the first time through the Tampa Bay batting order. Tampa only sent 29 batters to the plate in the game.
Rafael Palmeiro did not play, but there were supportive signs in the stands for him.
Up next is a battle of birds, as Toronto comes to town for a three-game weekend set. The series opener is tonight at Camden Yards at 7:35, with Daniel Cabrera (8-10, 5.09 ERA, throws right) facing former Oriole Josh Towers (8-9, 4.53 ERA, throws right).
Cabrera is coming off a rough outing against the Rangers, when he gave up eight runs in 3.2 innings. Towers is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA lifetime against his former team, but the Orioles got to him for four runs on eight hits in six innings earlier this season.
This was a great win and a great sweep, because the Orioles are coming up on a really tough stretch, with the O's next 25 games all against opponents over .500.
It was great to see Sam Perlozze sprinting out of the dugout to confront the umpires after the botched home run call, as opposed to Lee Mazzilli's slow trot to the umps and philosophical fingers-on-chin stance when "arguing" a call. Argue, don't just get an explanation!
Also, it's nice to see the team play well despite the distraction of Palmeiro's return to the dugout. With the team having won five of seven, I don't really see much of a rush to stick him back in the lineup. Hopefully he will spend some serious time on the bench, because as long as he's there, he won't be receiving 100 percent of the fan and media attention. An argument could be made that the sooner you get him out there, the sooner the media and fan focus is done with, but I think leaving him on the bench for another five or 10 games will lessen the focus on him when he does return to the lineup and shorten the amount of time that the focus is on him. Hopefully Perlozzo won't put him in this weekend.