BOSTON - The Orioles have won five straight series at Fenway Park, 11 of the last 15 games and 21 of the last 30.
The latest conquest became official when Jim Johnson retired Jacoby Ellsbury on a fly ball to left field to strand the potential tying run on first base.
The bullpen was solid again tonight with 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Brian Matusz stranded two runners by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew in the sixth, one of the key moments of the game. Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day followed with scoreless innings before Johnson finished up.
“Brian came in and got some big outs for us and kind of set up Pete and Darren to do what they do,” said manager Buck Showalter following the 3-2 victory. “And Jimmy Johnson, one-run lead on the road in the American League East, tough ballpark, that’s pretty impressive.
“Who knows what the future brings, but I was confident in (the bullpen) in spring training and the first game, second game, third game and after tomorrow’s game. They’ve been doing a good job for us. This isn’t the first time they’ve pitched well for us this season and it won’t be the last.”
As Matusz faced Drew with two outs and Jonny Gomes on deck, Showalter turned to bench coach John Russell and said, “If Brian gets this guy out, I think we’ve got a chance to win this game.”
“That’s because it really set up for us well the rest of the way,” Showalter said. “If he walks that guy, we probably go in a different direction with Gomes.”
Chris Tillman was charged with two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He came out with his pitch count at 101.
“He had good stuff and competed well,” Showalter said. “He gave us a chance to win the game. You’ve got to have a good start, regardless of what happens after the fifth or sixth inning. Tilly had a couple deep counts where you’d like to see him kind of shorten up some, which would allow him to go a little deeper in the game, but he had the type of stuff that could have carried him a little deeper tonight. But it’s early. He’s strong and he carried a good fastball in both outings from the get-go. That’s good to see.”
Adam Jones and Chris Davis remain a formidable one-two punch in the middle of the order. Jones has six multi-hit games. Davis’ 19 RBIs in the first nine games are the most by any player to start a season since the RBI became a statistic in 1920.
Showalter noted the strong performances of their teammates and added, “You want to have that pass the baton mentality. I don’t think our guys feel like one guy’s got to do it and that’s a good mentality to have. Someone else is going to pick them up. I don’t think anyone feels like they’re carrying the load.”
Showalter regarded another series win in Boston as “just one more game closer to the total you know you’re going to have to get to in order to roll the dice in October, so it’s a long way over. Over 150 games. But our guys should be proud of their effort the last two nights, and really the last three nights, and we move on to another challenge in New York. A team that’s playing well and try to deal with the issues that teams face - weather, hostile environment. But our guys will be ready.”