When he was asked before Tuesday night's game about how the Orioles could maintain the momentum that they built on the previous homestand, a grinning Buck Showalter said: "Pitching would be a good start. Then probably pitching."
The Orioles' new manager didn't mention anything about hitting, which looked like a glaring oversight several hours later when his team put together its biggest offensive outburst of the season.
Trailing by two heading into the fifth inning, the Orioles leaned heavily on the home run ball to score 10 consecutive runs and down the Cleveland Indians, 14-8, before an announced 13,541 at Progressive Field.
It was the Orioles' third straight win and their seventh in eight games since Showalter took over. The 14 runs marked the most the Orioles (39-74) have scored all season and represented the fourth time this season they have scored more than 10 runs.
"It's a lot of fun," Orioles first baseman Luke Scott said. "It's a relief. It just makes the game fun for us whenever we pound out some hits, score a lot of runs. It just does the dugout good. It takes some stress off the pitching staff also."
Left fielder Felix Pie connected for a three-run homer in the fifth off Justin Masterson, giving the Orioles the lead and starting their home run barrage.
Corey Patterson hit a solo homer in the sixth, and Matt Wieters added a two-run shot and Scott a three-run homer as part of a six-run eighth that turned the game into a rare laugher for the Orioles, who are just 19-46 at Progressive Field since it opened in 1994. The six-run eighth tied for the Orioles' highest-scoring inning of the season.
"There was a lot of yardage tonight," Showalter said. "That's impressive."
The only negative was that the Orioles' streak of seven consecutive quality starts ended as rookie Jake Arrieta allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks over six innings. However, Arrieta (4-3) hung around long enough to earn the win, retiring the final six batters he faced after allowing five runs in the fourth.
The Masterson-Arrieta matchup was a rematch from their college days, when Masterson pitched for San Diego State and Arrieta starred at Texas Christian. But this one turned out far differently as both starters struggled, allowing a total of 13 runs.
On April 28, 2006, Masterson shut out TCU, allowing just four hits and striking out 11. Arrieta didn't pitch poorly in the game, surrendering one earned run over six innings, but there was little doubt who was the better starting pitcher that day.
Tuesday night started out as another pitching duel between the two right-handers. Masterson allowed a leadoff single to Brian Roberts, who was the hero in the Orioles' 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night with a game-ending homer in the bottom of the 10th.
However, after the Roberts' hit, Masterson retired 12 nine straight Orioles, and only two of them managed to get the ball out of the infield.
Arrieta, meanwhile, put down the first five Indians before an error on Scott prolonged the second inning. He got out of the second, but in the third, he issued a two-out walk to Michael Brantley, who entered the game batting .167. Brantley moved to second on a throwing error by Arrieta on a pickoff attempt to first base. He then scored the game's first run on a single up the middle by Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Orioles, who made Masterson throw only 33 pitches through the first three innings, answered quickly in the fourth. It started when Nick Markakis drew a leadoff walk. Ty Wigginton then hit what appeared to be a double-play ball before third baseman Luis Valbuena booted it, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Scott drove in one run with an RBI double to left-center field, and then Adam Jones gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead with an RBI groundout. With Scott on third and one out, Pie hit a hard grounder up the middle that deflected off Masterson's leg. Cabrera, the Indians' shortstop who had made a move toward the middle, where it appeared the ball was headed, stopped and barehanded the ball while falling onto his back. He then looked Scott back to third and threw Pie out at first.
The Orioles, however, weren't done in the inning. Wieters followed Cabrera's defensive gem with an RBI single to right. After Patterson walked, Cesar Izturis dropped an RBI single into left-center to give the visitors a 4-1 lead.
However, Arrieta couldn't hold it for even a half inning. Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe hit back-to-back one-out doubles, Crowe's hit cutting the Orioles' lead to 4-2. Crowe then stole third and scored on Valbuena's groundout.
After a two-out single by Jason Donald, Arrieta hit No. 9 hitter Lou Marson and then gave up a game-tying single to Brantley. He followed that up by walking Cabrera to load the bases and surrendering a two-run double to Shin-Soo Choo that gave Cleveland the 6-4 lead.
It could have been worse, but Roberts' relay throw cut down Cabrera at the plate to end the inning.
Arrieta finished his outing by retiring six straight and watching as the Orioles' offense got going in a way it hadn't this season.
"It's real fun to be an Oriole right now with the way the guys are swinging the bats and the starters have been able to throw the ball pretty well and go deep into games," Arrieta said. "We're all having a lot of fun right now."