Luke Scott, left, celebrates his two-run homer with teammate… (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore…)
They are getting quality starts, proper aggressiveness on the bases, sure-handed defense and an avalanche of hits with runners in scoring position.
Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel probably aren't the only ones wondering, "Who are these guys?"
For the second straight night, Buck Showalter's Orioles got the best of the Los Angeles Angels, and the result is their first two-game winning streak since the All-Star break. The Orioles certainly made it interesting, watching an eight-run, seventh-inning lead get whittled to two before benefiting from a curious base-running decision by Torii Hunter and holding on for a 9-7 victory before an announced 13,467 at Camden Yards.
Alfredo Simon retired the potential game-tying run in Mike Napoli to end a game in which the two teams combined for 31 hits.
"When you get to six innings, can we keep them from scoring eight runs before we get nine outs?" Showalter said. "I kind of break it down that way. And we did."
Rookie left-hander Brian Matusz (4-11) allowed one run in six innings for just his second victory in his past 19 starts, and the offense exploded for nine runs and 12 hits by the bottom of the fourth inning.
The victory, just their fifth in 19 second-half games, clinches the Orioles' first series victory against the Angels since April 14-17, 2006, when they took three of four at Camden Yards. However, it certainly came at a price as three players were forced out of the game with an injury and one -- reliever David Hernandez -- is likely headed to the disabled list.
Hernandez sprained his left ankle while trying to cover home on a wild pitch in the seventh inning, and Showalter acknowledged after the game that it "doesn't look good."
"I just felt like the ligament went over the bone. That's about it," Hernandez said. "They said it was a Grade 2 sprain. [Head athletic trainer Richie Bancells] thinks that's 10 to 14 days, maybe, depending on how it heals."
Leadoff man Brian Roberts (left shin bruise) departed the game in the top of the seventh inning after a thunderstorm forced a 24-minute rain delay. Roberts was hit in the left leg by catcher Jeff Mathis' pickoff throw in the first inning, and he walked and ran with a pronounced limp until he was removed from the game five innings later. Roberts said he's hopeful that he'll be in the lineup for tonight's series finale.
Rookie third baseman Josh Bell also is optimistic about not missing any time after he was removed in the eighth inning with cramps in his left hamstring.
The injuries and the near Angels comeback cast a shadow over the Orioles' second straight win. Los Angeles scored five times in the seventh to cut the Orioles' lead to 9-6. Matt Albers was the primary culprit, allowing four of the five hitters he faced to reach base and allowing four earned runs.
Koji Uehara came in for Hernandez, and after giving up an infield single to load the bases, he retired pinch hitter Alberto Callapso on a groundout to keep the Orioles' lead at 9-6. He then struck out the side in the eighth, pounding his fist into his glove as he walked off the mound.
Simon then escaped a jam in the ninth with the help of catcher Matt Wieters, who threw out Hunter, trying to steal third base with the Angels trailing by two runs and no outs in the ninth. Wieters' throw broke the streak of 26 consecutive successful stolen-base attempts against the Orioles. The next batter, Howie Kendrick, popped out, and after Juan Rivera doubled, Simon retired Napoli.
Every Orioles starter except Wieters got a hit, and five players drove in runs. Left fielder Felix Pie led the effort with three hits and three RBIs. The Orioles (34-73) broke the game open and knocked Angels right-hander Ervin Santana out of the game by scoring five times in the fourth inning, all with two outs. Six straight Orioles reached base in the inning, and Luke Scott slammed a two-run homer, his 20th home run of the season and his third in three games.
"Everybody is swinging the bat great," Roberts said.
"Matusz pitched really well tonight. He really threw strikes and worked ahead in the count. [Jeremy] Guthrie did the same [Tuesday] night. It's certainly something that we're all excited about, the way things are going right now.
In the first two games of the series and the Showalter era, the Orioles have scored 15 runs and pounded out 22 hits. With their 6-for-12 effort with runners in scoring position Wednesday night, the Orioles are 11-for-23 in such situations over the past two games. In the five games before Showalter's arrival, the Orioles went 4-for-35 (.114) with runners in scoring position.
They haven't made an error, and their starters -- Guthrie on Tuesday and Matusz on Wednesday -- have allowed just four earned runs and no walks in 13 innings.
"It's just that [Showalter's] presence, well, you can just feel the change coming," center fielder Adam Jones said. "He's been on some winning ballclubs; he knows what it takes. Everybody knows his reputation around here. They know it as someone who's going to get on you, and it's working for us. He's looking at all the small things that are going on, the mental mistakes, and we haven't made too many."
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