Now that’s how you get the bats out!
After I spent yesterday lamenting the lack of offense that had engulfed the Birds over the past four games, they broke out in a big way in their final contest with the Blue Jays of 2012.
Though it looked to be another case of a struggling starting pitcher getting the better of them, as Carlos Villanueva allowed only one run on two hits – the run on a Nate McLouth home run to lead off the game, the second hit an Adam Jones double with two outs in the fourth – through four innings, everything changed in the bottom of the fifth.
Jim Thome led off the inning with a solo home run to right that tied the game at two. After two quick outs, Manny Machado finally belted his fifth home run of the season, giving the Birds a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
However, they were just getting started.
McLouth and J.J. Hardy followed with singles, and Chris Davis finished up a great at bat with a three-run home run to right-center field that put the O’s up 6-2.
Mark Reynolds added a two-run dinger in the bottom of the sixth to pad the lead to 8-2.
Davis homered again in the bottom of the seventh with Hardy again aboard to make it 10-2.
Then in the bottom of the eighth, Machado capped things off with yet another bomb, this one a two-run shot to round out the scoring at 12-2.
If you’re counting, that’s SEVEN home runs by the Birds in one game, and six in the span of only four innings.
McLouth (1st), Thome (5th), Machado (5th), Davis (5th), Reynolds (6th), Davis (7th), Machado (8th).
It was just the second time in O’s history that they have hit seven home runs in a single game, with the other occurrences coming on August 26, 1985, and May 18, 1967.
The win was not only crucial because it secured the four-game split with Toronto and showed that the Birds still have some pop in their bats, but also because every other team that we care about won as well.
The Yankees, A’s, Angels, and Rays were all victorious on Wednesday, so the win kept them all in the Birds’ rearview for the moment.
Starting play on Thursday, the O’s are 89-67, 1.5 behind NYY in the AL East, 0.5 up on Oakland for the top Wild Card spot, 2.5 up on Anaheim, and 3.5 up on Tampa.
The O’s are idle today, but in other action the A’s finish up their series with the Rangers at 2:05 ET, the Mariners and Angels conclude things at 3:35, the Yankees start a four-game set in Toronto and the Rays start a four-game set in Chicago tonight.
So there will be PLENTY of scoreboard watching going on. Let’s go Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, and White Sox!
Starting Friday, the Birds welcome in the Boston Red Sox for their final home series of the regular season. The Sox are a struggling bunch at the moment, having lost two straight and six of seven (two of those coming at the hands of the O’s), but don’t think they won’t have revenge for 2011 on their minds when they come to town.
Let’s hope the Birds’ bats stay alive and mighty to close out the season. They need to jump out to a big lead in every game against the BoSox and get a critical sweep to continue to control their own destiny.