Simon strengthens case for rotation spot (O’s lose, 3-2)

Alfredo Simon tied his career high with 114 pitches tonight. The last time he did it? His last start on Aug. 23 against the Twins.

OK, he’s stretched out to be a starter.

Simon can’t win tonight, as he left after the seventh inning with the Orioles losing, 3-1, but he deserves a better fate. He held the Yankees to three runs and four hits, with two walks and six strikeouts. That’s more impressive than controlling the offensively-challenged Twins in their ballpark.

Simon has allowed four runs and seven hits in his last two starts covering 15 innings.

I’d like to withdraw my theory that he was tiring.

Michael Gonzalez replaced Simon in the eighth and retired the side in order, striking out Mark Teixeira to end the inning. He hasn’t permitted a run in his last 13 appearances (including tonight) dating back to July 22, and 18 of his last 19.

It looks like Gonzalez will return for the ninth, so those numbers might need to be adjusted. And yes, I’ll blame myself.

Update: J.J. Hardy just tied his career high with his 26th home run, matching his total with the Brewers in 2007. He also brought the Orioles within a run of the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth inning.

That’s the first run off Yankees reliever David Robertson on the road this season. It’s the first homer he’s allowed in 68 2/3 innings.

Update II: Mariano Rivera retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Orioles lost to the Yankees, 3-2.

Gonzalez blanked New York in the top of the ninth, so the above stats hold up.

Gonzalez hasn’t allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings this month. He’s given up three hits and struck out 15 batters.

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