By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
12:04 AM EDT, August 15, 2012
Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds refused to call his two-homer game against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday his first step to redemption. He'd rather footnote it as one good night.
Reynolds, who had struggled with his power stroke all year, is beginning to heat up at the plate, as his manager and teammates predicted would eventually happen during the course of the season. Reynolds, who averaged 37 homers the last three seasons, had built up too strong a power-hitting resume to remain in a season-long funk, they argued.
But after Reynolds' second four-RBI game of the season in the Orioles' 7-1 win, he downplayed his night.
“Since April to almost now, it's been a struggle,” Reynolds said. “I'm still, I'm not out of this yet. One good night doesn't mean anything; I've got to keep pushing. Can't relax. You know, I got to keep playing. ...
“Tomorrow I can go 0-for-4 with four [strikeouts] and you guys have a new story to write. So, I'm not going to be satisfied by any means. Still got to work hard and figure this thing out.”
Reynolds' multi-homer game was the 15th of his career, and it allowed the Orioles to continue their recent dominance of the Red Sox, taking their seventh game out of 10 against Boston this year in front of an announced 26,204 at Camden Yards.
The win also kept the Orioles (63-53) in one of the two American League wild-card spots and put them 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 24. The tumbling Red Sox (57-60) fell 6 ½ back in the wild-card race.
It was Reynolds' first multi-homer game in nearly 11 months, his last coming Sept. 21, 2011 against the Red Sox. He hit both of those off right-hander Josh Beckett, whom he took deep once Tuesday
“I know the struggles [he's] had there early on," Showalter said of Reynolds. "Mark's handled it real well. It means a lot to him to contribute to his club and his teammates.”
The Orioles hit three homers off Red Sox pitching, including Reynolds' three-run shot on reliever Mark Melancon's first delivery of the game, capping a five-run sixth inning that put the Orioles up by the final margin.
“We have all the confidence in the world in him,” designated hitter Chris Davis said of Reynolds. “He's really played well defensively. We've been say it all along, he's liable to catch fire and hit 20 home runs. Hopefully he can keep it going.”
Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen rebounded from his roughest outing of the season, holding the Red Sox to just one run over six-plus innings. In three outings against Boston this season, Chen is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA and the Orioles have won all three games.
"The Red Sox are a really tough lineup, but first of all, I have to give all the credit to the guys behind me that did an incredible job,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “Nice catches and nice plays behind me. And I have to thank the bullpen for saving me a lot."
As for Reynolds, who hit an opposite-field solo homer off Beckett in the fifth to put the Orioles up 2-1, he's hitting .364 (8-for-22) over his last six games with five extra-base hits (three homers, two doubles) and 7 RBIs. Tuesday's start was Reynolds' second in the past four games, as Wilson Betemit moved over from third to start two games over the weekend after the addition of rookie third baseman Manny Machado.
“I know what I'm capable of,” Reynolds said. “I've done it before. And hopefully tonight will kind of be a springboard for me and moving forward give me some confidence. When Buck writes me in there, I'm going to do everything I can do.”
The Orioles continued to get a surprising power surge from second baseman Omar Quintanilla, who hit his second homer in four games in the third inning, a towering blast onto the flag court in right field.
The homer was Quintanilla's third in 68 at bats (21 games), as many as he hit in 592 previous big league at bats with three clubs.
But it wasn't until the sixth that the Orioles opened the game up against Beckett. After a leadoff single by J.J. Hardy and a one-out walk to Adam Jones, both runners moved into scoring position when Beckett uncorked a wild pitch.
Matt Wieters then hit a high chopper that bounced over the mound and died between the middle infielders for an infield single, scoring Hardy. Davis then hit Beckett's first pitch to him up the middle to score Jones and make it 4-1.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wouldn't let Beckett face Reynolds again — three of Reynolds' four hits against Beckett are homers — but Reynolds took Melancon's first pitch, an 80-mph hanging curveball about 15 rows into the left-field stands.
Chen (11-7) gave the Orioles his fifth quality start in his last seven outings. He allowed nine hits, but Carl Crawford's run-scoring single in the fourth was Boston's only offense. The Red Sox stranded six baserunners off Chen, including three in scoring position.
“We've been playing really well against them all year,” Davis said. “[We] had some tough games against them, obviously, that long game in Boston. It was good tonight to put some distance between us and them. It was a close game and it was good to break open and put some runs on the board. Wei-Yin had another great outing. It was big for us to get the win and kind of set the tone for the series.”
Right hander Darren O'Day stranded the bases loaded in the seventh — striking out Cody Ross swinging and Ryan Lavarnway looking to end the threat — as the Orioles bullpen combined for three scoreless innings.
“I take pride in doing that and returning the favor for other guys,” said O' Day, who has stranded 26 of 31 inherited runners this season. I created a little bit of a mess out there, but we got out of it and all is well.”
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