Angels pounce on the Orioles
BALTIMORE -- This wasn’t a baseball game, it was a bludgeoning.
The Angels showed no mercy for the sad-sack Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday night, pounding them into submission during an 18-6 victory in which their offense wasn’t merely relentless, it was ruthless.
The Angels amassed 14 hits, including two-run home runs by Garret Anderson and rookie Brandon Wood, his first in the big leagues, and scored in six of nine innings.
They pounced on the Orioles’ three errors, took full advantage of 13 walks -- seven came around to score -- and stole four bases.
They scored five runs on three hits and two errors in the first inning, five runs on one hit and five walks in the eighth, and went eight for 22 with runners in scoring position.
Even with a 12-6 lead in the eighth, Casey Kotchman bolted for home on Jeff Mathis’ chopper to third and scored on a head-first dive into the plate.
“I liked the way we pressured them every inning,” Manager Mike Scioscia said after the Angels reduced their magic number to clinch the American League West to nine with 17 games left. “That’s something we really needed to do.”
Kelvim Escobar isn’t so sure. The Angels right-hander lasted long enough to secure his 100th career victory and improve to 17-7, but those time-consuming rallies might have thrown off his rhythm.
After opening with three hitless innings, Escobar was tagged for five runs and six hits in the fourth and gave up six runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in the game.
“You’re in the dugout for such a long time, you cool off,” said Escobar, who received scant run-support the last three seasons. “You have to find a way to stay warm, focused, ready.”
Escobar’s struggles weren’t limited to Wednesday; he has given up 14 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings of his last three starts for a 9.20 ERA.
“I’m happy to get my 100th win, but I’m disappointed with the way I pitched,” Escobar said. “I have to get it together and be ready for the playoffs, because I know the team is counting on me.”
Escobar had room for error Wednesday. He had a 6-0 lead in the third, and after the Orioles pulled to within 8-5, the Angels scored three times in the fifth on Vladimir Guerrero’s two-run single and Anderson’s RBI single, which gave Anderson five RBIs on the night and 62 RBIs since the All-Star break.
It didn’t hurt that four Orioles pitchers needed MapQuest to locate the strike zone.
“Thirteen walks? Wow!” leadoff batter Chone Figgins said, when informed the Angels, never known for their patience, came within one walk of the franchise record.
“I don’t think we’re trying to open up another part of the game by walking a lot. We like to swing the bats, but it was one of those nights where they had a hard time finding the strike zone, and we laid off some good pitches.”
At least there was one shining moment for Orioles fans, who got a kick out of Manager Dave Trembley’s animated fourth-inning argument with second base umpire Paul Emmel, an outburst that earned high marks for improvisation but will probably earn Trembley a suspension.
Which, considering the Orioles have lost 18 of 21 games, a stretch that began with a major league record-setting 30-3 loss to Texas on Aug. 22, and have been outscored, 196-96, in that span -- will probably be a welcome respite for Trembley.
Toward the end of Baltimore’s rally, the Orioles had two on with one out when Jay Payton grounded to the shortstop hole. Orlando Cabrera fielded the ball and tossed to second baseman Howie Kendrick, who clearly pulled his foot off the bag before making the catch.
But Emmel ruled Scott Moore out at second, Trembley went jaw to jaw with Emmel and got ejected. Trembley proceeded to second base, where he drew a line in the dirt with his foot to show where Kendrick was when he caught the ball and made an exaggerated ejection call of his own, as if to say Emmel should be tossed.
“The game,” Trembley said, “is at times a difference of opinion.”