Praise the pagan baseball Gods! The Orioles have snapped the season-long nine-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over the Indians that was a lot closer than it ever should have been.
The Orioles went into the ninth inning up 6-2 on the backs of Markakis (3-4 with two doubles a homer), Jones and Pie (a double each combined for four RBI). When Kevin Gregg almost blew it. He would get the first two outs, scattered between three walks, and with the bases loaded and two strikes on Orlando Cabrera the veteran batter roped a bases-clearing double to pull the Indians within one. That was all that Buck Showalter needed to see and he pulled Gregg to a chorus of boos from the frustrated 24 thousand fans in attendance. Thankfully Michael Gonzalez came in and easily retired Grady Sizemore to end the game and secure the win.
Quick prediction: Koji get used in more closing-type roles for the remainder of the month. If Koji is truly a trade chip then we need to show him off in key roles. Gregg getting yanked an out away from a save (even if he almost blew it) is rather telling to me.
Even though Gregg did his best to ruin the night the Orioles looked sharp all around. Alfredo Simon was brilliant. He was perfect through three and pitched seven innings of two-run ball and let the Orioles offense do their job on the other end. It was a refreshing change from the recent performances of Orioles starters. Simon was the first starter to get through seven innings in what seems like a geologic age.
Speaking of starters; Brian Matusz pitched last night in the AAA Tides game against the Gwinnett Braves and the results were good. Matusz pitched seven innings of three-hit shutout baseball with eight strike outs and two walks. The most important thing is that reports say that the velocity on hist fastball was back up in the 88-91 MPH range. It is too soon to say that Matusz is ready to come back but another start or two like this one and he will be back.