(July 2-4) White Sox Take Series Over Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles started the month of July in disappointing fashion, losing back-to-back series in week 14 of the season and it all started off with a 1-2 series loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Game One was dismal for the Orioles as they lost for the first time in five games, falling 5-2 to the Sox in Chicago. The O’s have one of the finest batting lineups in the American League, but they were completely stonewalled by Sox starting pitcher John Danks, who gave up just one run through seven innings pitched. Brian Roberts nailed a home run off Danks in the third inning, but Danks would pitch near-perfect for the next four innings, keeping Baltimore run-free until the eighth inning when he was replaced by his bullpen.
Closer Addison Reed eventually took over in the ninth and put the game away for his 22nd save of the year. Baltimore’s starting pitcher Jason Hammel struggled, giving two homeruns, one to Connor Gillaspie and another to Adam Dunn.
Baltimore was able to take Game Two with a 4-2 victory, largely due to MVP candidate Chris Davis, who drove in three runs, including his 32nd home run of the season. Star closer Jim Johnson also picked up his 29th save of the season.
But the series was lost for the O’s as they fell in Game Three when Adam Dunn smacked a walk-off home run to win the game for the Sox, 3-2. Dunn’s 23rd home run of the season and 74th as a White Sox player stole the show from Chicago’s starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who was incredible with 11 strikeouts in seven innings.
(July 5-6) O’s Lose Two Straight to Yankees
The O’s continued it’s losing slump in New York as they lost Game One of their series against the Yankees, 3-2. Baltimore held a 2-1 lead over the Yankees from the third inning through to the eighth, thanks to a home run and two RBI by Matt Wieters. Baltimore then called on Jim Johnson, the league leader in saves, to close the game out. Johnson, however, blew his sixth save of the season by giving up two runs in the ninth inning.
Johnson’s blown save couldn’t have come at a worse time as Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera closed in on him, tying him for a league leading 29 saves on the season in Game Two of the series. Rivera put the game away in the ninth inning for a 5-4 win. Chris Davis earned his 33rd home run of the season, the most of any batter in MLB this season. But Yankee batters caught fire midway through the game; Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki and Luis Cruz each had an RBI and Eduardo Nunez had two RBI.
The start of July for the O’s was in stark contrast to the way they ended the month of June. Baltimore (48-40 record) had just swept the Yankees (48-39 record) last week to go three games ahead of New York for second place in the American League East division. But after starting the week with a series loss to the worst team in the division in Chicago, followed by two straight losses in New York, the O’s are back in third place behind the Yankees. This week was also the first time Baltimore has lost three consecutive games since their six-game losing slump in the middle of May. As long as closer Jim Johnson and the bullpen recapture their groove, however, Birdland should find its way back in the winning circle sooner than later.
O’s Player of the Week: Chris Davis
The Orioles won just one game during the week and that lone victory came via the bat of Davis, a clear frontrunner for AL MVP so far this season. He hit a home run and three RBI in Game Two against the Sox on July 3, and added another homerun in Game Two of the series against the Yankees on July 6.
Baltimore will host the Texas Rangers in a four-game series July 8-11, followed by another home series against the Toronto Blue Jays July 12-14.