Jeremy Guthrie was 1-7 with a 4.62 ERA in 15 career starts against the Red Sox before tonight, but he held them to two runs in seven innings. Only three Orioles starters have completed seven innings in the last 32 games. Guthrie has done it twice.
Guthrie had allowed 12 runs and 14 hits in his last two starts covering 10 innings. So what was the difference tonight?
“Locating the fastball,” manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m sure he’s got a lot of different things that went on. Obviously, that’s one of the better lineups in baseball, and to hold them to two runs ... Pretty good pitch (Jarrod) Saltalamacchia hit out. He didn’t make many mistakes. With that many left-handed hitters, you’re going to have to command the curveball, and he did.
“I thought the seventh inning was the most impressive inning that he pitched. Pretty solid. It was a very impressive outing, one that he deserved to have.”
Guthrie seemed especially down after his last start.
“You don’t do the things he’s done over his career without having some emotion and being passionate about what you do for a living. So to think it hasn’t been frustrating for him, I think would be kidding all of us,” Showalter said.
Jim Johnson picked up his first save by retiring all six batters he faced.
“It’s a hard club to hold to a one-run cushion for a long time,” Showalter said. “J.J. was outstanding, and to give the bullpen another breather ... I can’t tell you I was expecting or not expecting it.
“Jeremy is capable of better and I hope this is the start of him running off some things that we know he’s capable of doing. It would mean a lot to us.”
The Orioles extended their lead to four runs in the eighth with back-to-back homers by Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds. Koji Uehara would have closed, but he sat down after Reynolds’ 414-foot shot.
“I like to stay away from guys I don’t have to pitch,” Showalter said. “J.J. had thrown, I think, only 12 pitches in the eighth and he was up and hot. We told him when he came off, ‘We score three runs, you’re still in the game. If not, Koji’s got the ninth.’”
Matt Wieters threw out Marco Scutaro trying to steal to end the seventh.
“It’s as much J.J. being quick to the plate,” Showalter said. “We’ve been telling our guys since spring training, you give Matt a chance, he’s going to throw out his share of guys. We like our chances. I’m sure they felt real good, as hot as they’ve been leading off the next inning with the top of the order in a one-run game. It’s a good risk.”
The Red Sox had beaten the Orioles in seven straight games.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it was,” Showalter said, “but I’m not going to walk around the locker room and go, ‘Hey, seven straight. Let’s go.’ They’d go, ‘No you-know-what.’ We dwell on it for a very short period. We have a 12:35 game tomorrow and it’ll be nice and cool and it’ll be a distant memory, but it’s nice for a day.”