The Baltimore Orioles inched a game closer in the Wildcard standings yesterday with a great collective pitching performance and a two run double from Danny Valencia as the Birds took two of three from the Blue Jays with a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon.
Miguel Gonzalez (10-7) started on the mound for the Orioles in a game that was essentially a must win, and Gonzalez did not disappoint. He seemingly only made one mistake in the game and it happened to go out of the ball park for a solo home run, but that would be the only run that Gonzo, or any other Orioles pitcher would give up the entire game.
Gonzalez did have to work out of a jam or two, but was good when he needed to be and gave the Birds a start that they had to have. Miguel wound up tossing 5 1/3 innings, while allowing just one run on six hits, zero walks and two strikeouts on just 86 pitches, 56 of which went for strikes.
Four Orioles relievers combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Both Kevin Gausman and Francisco Rodriguez made it interesting by putting runners on base, but the Birds were able to get out of it. Tommy Hunter came on in relief of Rodriguez with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning and was able to get Moises Sierra to strikeout to end the threat. Jim Johnson came on to pitch a scoreless ninth for his 45th save of the season.
Valencia came through with the big hit of the day, again, for the Orioles. Trailing 1-0 in the top of the third inning, Baltimore had runners on first and second with two outs, and Valencia scorched a ball down the left field line to score two and give the O's a lead that they would not relinquish.
Valencia led the way with two RBI, while Nick Markakis had the lone multi hit game going 2-4 with a run scored.
The Birds will enjoy their final off day of the regular season today before beginning a three game series with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway. Boston is coming off of sweeping the New York Yankees and will be a tough task for the O's, but if Baltimore wants to remain in the Wildcard chase, they will have to come away winning at least two out of three.
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