Carroll County Times

Davis, Casilla power Orioles to skid-busting win

BALTIMORE - Alexi Casilla is not an imposing figure when he steps into the batter's box and hovers over the plate.
The 5-foot-9 Baltimore Orioles reserve player doesn't typically do much with his bat either, usually making his contributions to the team with speed and defense.
But on Tuesday, Casilla looked more like a power hitter during his at-bat in the seventh inning.
With runners on second and third in a tied game, Casilla jolted a three-run homer to deep right-center field lifting the Orioles to a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians that sent the majority of the 20,924 at Camden Yards home happy.
The home run came off Cleveland starter Justin Masterson. Casilla's lone home run last season on Aug. 8 also was against Masterson. And entering Tuesday, Casilla was the only Oriole to have a homer off Masterson.
"I think everybody's pulling for him right there, obviously hoping that he'll just get a base hit," Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis said. "And then he does that and provided a little bit of a jolt of adrenaline for everybody."
Masterson is the only pitcher that Casilla has more than one homer against.
Casilla's bomb capped off a five-run seventh inning that quickly changed the game. After Adam Jones was hit on the first pitch of the inning, Davis smashed his league-leading 28th homer to right-center on the first pitch he saw to tie the game, 3-3.
Matt Wieters walked, Chris Dickerson legged out an infield single, and both advanced on a wild pitch to set the stage for Casilla to give the Orioles (43-35) a win and snap their four-game losing streak.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Casilla's track record against Masterson was a big factor in Casilla getting the start.
"He's had a little success off Masterson," Showalter said. "There aren't many guys that have. That was it."
Casilla said through an interpreter, coach Einar Diaz, that coming through in the situation was satisfying.
"He felt like he had to come and do something for the team," Diaz said for Casilla. "He did it that time."
For the first four innings, Masterson (9-6) was perfect, retiring all 12 Orioles batters. Davis said there was no big difference later, but Jones' first hit was obviously a big relief.
"It looked like it was going to be one of those nights where if we could just scratch out a few runs, try to get to the bullpen, that was our best chance to win," Davis said.
Unlike the Indians' right-hander, Orioles starter Chris Tillman (9-2) was wild early. He struggled with his command, walking four batters in the first three innings.
And later, he gave up a two-run opposite-field homer to Jason Kipnis that gave Cleveland (39-37) a 3-0 lead in the fifth.
But Tillman, much like he has in his last few outings, was able to battle his control issues and earn the victory.
The right-hander won his fifth straight outing, all of which he has given up three runs or fewer. He has also won six of his last seven starts.
"It was definitely a grind for me tonight," Tillman said. "Making adjustments is part of this game. You got to be ready for it, and react and do your best to make that adjustment."
Jim Johnson sealed the victory with his league-leading 27th save.
For Baltimore, it was another game where a reserve player made an impact and led it to victory. Taylor Teagarden had a key homer against the Tigers last week and Chris Dickerson has had timely contributions throughout the season.
Tuesday was Casilla's turn.
Orioles left fielder Nate McLouth, who was one of four Orioles who went hitless and struggled against Masterson, said it's relieving to see bench players help the team win games, especially ones where some starters struggle.
"That takes pressure off the big guys to know that we've got other guys who can contribute," McLouth said. "We were just going up there hacking, trying to put something together. A lot of times you're not going to be able to, but tonight we were."