Orioles hitting on all cylinders, and at the right time

It wasn't a long start, but it was a solid one for Brian Matusz considering he threw 38 pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox.

It also wasn't a flawless performance from the bullpen, unless you only consider Koji Uehara's impressive ninth inning in which he struck out two and threw eight of his nine pitches for strikes. But it was a very good performance in a very hard place to get the final nine outs.


But by far, the most impressive part of the Orioles' 4-2 victory last night at Fenway Park was their timely hitting, and the way they battled at the plate in the decisive top of the seventh inning.

Let's review: Brian Roberts works a one-out walk against Daisuke Matsuzaka, laying off a 3-2 pitch. Nick Markakis gets behind Matsuzaka, but lines a 2-2 offering off the base of the Green Monster in left field for a double.


Now, with runners on second and third and one out and the game tied at two, Boston manager Terry Francona brought in Daniel Bard, arguably the top set-up man in baseball, looking for the strikeout of Ty Wigginton. It appeared that he'd get it as Wigginton quickly fell behind 0-2. But the veteran fouled off several tough pitched, and then took a couple of close pitches before hitting a go-ahead sacrifice fly to center field. Luke Scott then made it a two-run game with another gritty at-bat, resulting in a two-out, two-strike single.

"Obviously, a lot of people have had trouble with [Bard]," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Ty's not the type of guy that just gives in. He's going to [man] up and compete. That's what you have to do to do what he did. And Luke had a big base hit there."

It goes without saying - and this was the lead of the game story - that it's been these types of at-bats the last month and a half, to go along with pretty consistent pitching, that has allowed the Orioles to 28-17 since Showalter took over.

"Wiggy's at bat was certainly a huge key to our win tonight," said Roberts. "That's not an easy at-bat for anybody. In that situation, starting him off with three or four sliders and then to foul off 99 [miles an hour] in on the hands. That was a very professional at-bat. It's something you come to expect out of Wiggy because he does have a lot of really good at-bats especially in key situations.

"It's a combination of timely hitting and good pitching. When it comes to offensively, that's the big thing, getting runners in with less than two outs. You don't necessarily have to have a hit. You just need a good at-bat and get the guy in. It's happening certainly a lot more than it did in the first half."

Wigginton, who has now brought in the game-winning run in two straight games, agreed with Roberts.

"I think you are seeing a lot more unselfish at-bats," Wigginton said. "I think you are seeing guys give themselves up, making sure to move the runner, and if you benefit with the hit, it's even better. And that's what it takes to be a good ballclub."