* Kevin Millwood had perhaps his best start of the season. Final line; 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Couldn’t have done this kind of stuff before the trade deadline?
* Jim Johnson was back on the mound after a long absence due to injury. He looked like the old JJ, pounding the zone with those 93-94 mph two-seamers.
* Nick Markakis singled and walked twice. Nick had 3 two-walk games in the first week of the season. You have to go back from today to July 31st to get a stretch within which he’s had 3 two-walk games.
* Josh Bell hit his 3rd home run of the year, taking Scott Kazmir deep to the opposite field. All three of Bell’s homers this year have been batting right-handed – the side he’s struggled with. In fact, if you take all of his minor league home runs from the right side in 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 combined, you get… 3 (in 371 at bats- he has just 26 ABs versus lefties this year). His next time up – batting left-handed – Bell almost hit another one out (he just missed the pitch and flew out to deep right-field).
* Baserunning, at least for one inning. With Ty Wigginton at second-base (he led off the 6th with a double), Jake Fox hit a grounder to the right side. The pitcher and first-baseman both went for it, allowing Fox to slide into first (leading with his feet – how often do you see that happen there?) safely. Wiggy, meanwhile, motored all the way around third and came in to score on the play. Buck decided to pinch-run Corey Patterson for Fox at that point, getting some more speed on the bases and improving the defense in left-field. A couple batters later that came into play, as Cesar Izturis singled with two outs and Patterson flew home, just sliding in before the tag. No way Fox would have made it in time. Sometimes when you’re winning those are the kind of good things that happen.
* Izzy actually finished the day 3-4. And played well at short, of course.
* Felix Pie listening to me. For a guy that doesn’t hit lefties well, facing a lefty with control problems should mean a willingness to take some pitches. So when Pie came up against Kazmir in the 6th inning (right after Fox’s infield hit), I said “I desperately want Felix to walk here.” Pie tried not to, swinging at a few balls, but Kazmir’s wildness was too much and Felix did indeed draw a free pass (his only time on base in the game, even when I asked for a double). More of that please.
* The O’s made things easier on Kazmir than they should have, going up to the plate hacking more than they should have. Crowley can’t be brought back next year; there’s no way.
The Orioles stave off play-off elimination for one more day with their 5-0 win. Can they make it to September still (technically) alive? We’ll see, but they’ve already guaranteed themselves a winning August at 15-11 now (15-10 under Buck).