In the first inning tonight the Orioles got two runs - one with power and one with speed.
We don’t always see the Orioles get a run on the bases, but after a Steve Pearce homer, the O’s had Nelson Cruz on first and Adam Jones on third and one out. The Orioles then pulled off a double steal. It led to Jones stealing home, the O’s first steal of home since Robert Andino against Atlanta on June 14, 2009.
“Just a play we don’t use often but we know it’s in our little bag of tricks. No better time to use it than there,” Jones said.
Cruz stopped short of second base to force Tampa Bay into a rundown play and Jones broke for home and with a high throw, slid in safely.
What was Jones looking for on that play as to when he should break for the plate?
“There are different things,” he said. “You can leave as soon as the catcher releases the ball or you can wait until the shortstop or whoever has the ball squares his shoulders to Nelson and it’s tougher for him to readjusted (to throw home) at that point.”
So the Orioles don’t always need a homer to score.
“No. We don’t. We can get some normal base hits to score some runs and we can also pull some cats out of the hat,” Jones said.
Six innings later the Orioles snapped a 4-4 tie on J.J. Hardy’s bloop single to right in the seventh that gave the Orioles the winning run in their 5-4 win over Tampa Bay.
The Rays walked Chris Davis intentionally to get to Hardy. Was he surprised Davis was walked there?
“Little bit,” Hardy said. “Was just thinking about hitting the ball hard. Didn’t happen but it worked. I was just trying not to let emotions get a hold of me and hit the ball hard.
“To take three out of four was big. We are playing pretty good ball after the Cubs series. We forgot about that and moved forward.”
The game featured Andrew Miller’s first win as an Oriole. He came on with a man on first and one out in the seventh and got a double play ball when Hardy gloved a short hop to start the play.
“Great game,” Miller said. “Everything all around. Bud (Norris) hung in there for us and gave us a chance to win. The time period I was out there was a pretty exciting swing for a couple of innings. Great play by J.J. to start it off. Pretty incredible to have the awareness and the ability to execute that trap play. Think that momentum carried him over to his at bat.”
The Orioles bullpen continues to roll with 16 scoreless innings over the last five games.
“It’s been great since I’ve been here,” Miller said. “One through seven, now we have eight guys out there right now. It’s been pretty impressive. Everybody steps up, has a role and does their job. We are all trying to get the ball to Zach (Britton) because he’s been lights out.”
Norris gave up four runs over six innings tonight. He struggled early, allowing two runs on 34 pitches in the first inning, but needed just 66 pitches in the second through sixth innings.
He talked about his difficult first inning.
“Just trying to get comfortable out there,” Norris said. “Third pitch of the game had a leadoff double and was trying to pitch around it. I definitely made a mistake to (Evan) Longoria and some things got out of hand. Wally (pitching coach Dave Wallace) came out and calmed me down a little bit.
“It’s a big win for us. A series win for us. To get through six was big for us. Tried to grind it out.”
And then he turned it over to that bullpen.
“When you can give the ball to the back end of the bullpen and they put up those zeroes, it gives confidence to the team,” he said. “We can play and win close games and that is why you stay in first place. Pen has been outstanding and we just want them to keep going.”
The Orioles are now 9-1 in Norris’ 10 starts this season against the AL East. He is 6-1 with a 2.95 ERA in those games.
The Orioles are 11-5 against the Rays and lead the all-time series, 147-146 over Tampa Bay.
Cruz’s single in the first inning was the 900th hit of his career.