With one swing in the ninth inning Sunday, Adam Jones silenced what would have been an avalanche of fan criticism toward the Orioles on social media.
He beat Mariano Rivera and the message board, blog and Twitter critics. They’ll be back, but for one day, the O’s and those that read social media forums get a respite.
It seems every Orioles loss this year brings out some fan hand-wringing and angst. I’ve never quite seen it to this degree. I imagine that when some commenters calm down, they can’t be too pleased sometimes with what they’ve written.
I have to imagine Yankees fans were second-guessing Joe Girardi after Sunday’s game. Hiroki Kuroda had a shutout going on 88 pitches through seven innings and Girardi took him out.
It is hard to second-guess a skipper who brings in David Robertson and his 2.23 ERA for the eighth and the greatest closer in major league history for the ninth.
On April 14, Kuroda shut out the Orioles in the Bronx on five hits and 113 pitches. Yesterday, he didn’t allow a hit after giving up a leadoff double in the fourth. Yet he was removed from the game.
In two starts this year at home against the Orioles, Kuroda has pitched 16 scoreless innings. In two starts at Camden Yards, he went a total of seven innings allowing 15 hits and eight runs.
Meanwhile, just when some fans were really getting down on Jones and Jim Johnson, they both came through big-time for the club.
Jones had gone 15 games without an extra-base hit and 16 games without a homer, but then he connected off Rivera. Jones became the first to hit a go-ahead homer off Rivera in the ninth inning or later since Bobby Abreu in 2011. Rivera had recorded 41 straight home saves.
Yes, that was an impressive swing.
Jones is batting .371 this season in the ninth inning or later, is batting .324 with runners in scoring position and is 3-for-7 with the bases loaded.
A lot of the commenters on this blog didn’t seem to believe Buck Showalter would give Johnson the ball with a one-run lead so soon after Friday’s game. He did - and 11 pitches later, it was over.
Johnson is not afraid and he doesn’t crack under the pressure. He just needs better command of his pitches and he’s proven his toughness before on the road. He did again yesterday.
The talk show callers and some here continue to debate what the O’s should do with the closer’s role. The man who makes those decisions seems to know what he wants to do.
So now the Orioles open a week-long homestand that begins tonight with a key home series against Texas.
The Orioles could use some home cooking and they’ve been getting it at the Yard. They’ve won four in a row and eight of 11 at home and are 16-5 in their last 21 home games. For the club, after that big win, it’s now on to the next challenge.
The 2013 season: never a dull moment, on the field or with the postgame reaction.