To most inside the Baltimore clubhouse, that day is history. They still respect what that night meant, but these Orioles are in a much different place this September. And on Friday night, they opened their three game series with the Red Sox certain to not allow Boston to play spoiler.
Baltimore scored six runs in the first inning — four of them on rookie second baseman Ryan Flaherty’s first career grand slam — and right-hander Chris Tillman held the Red Sox to one hit over eight innings in a 9-1 victory before an announced 33,518 at Camden Yards.
It marked the second time this season the Orioles held an opponent to just one hit. (Jason Hammel tossed a one-hitter June 16 in Atlanta.)
The Orioles (90-67) won their ninth game in their last 12 to remain one game behind the American League East-leading New York Yankees, who beat Toronto. Baltimore also remained in the top AL wild-card position.
Tillman (9-2) won his fourth straight decision, holding a Red Sox lineup that included just two players who started last year’s Game 162 to just one unearned run. Scott Podsednik led off the game with a bunt single to second and later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Tillman retired 14 straight batters at one point and 17 of 18 to end his night. Over his last five starts, he’s pitched to a 1.55 ERA, and he’s thrown quality starts in five of his last six outings. The one non-quality start came Sept. 2, when he left a start at Yankee Stadium after three innings with right elbow discomfort.
His job was made easy by the resurgent Orioles offense. Since being shut out on Tuesday night, the Orioles have scored 21 runs and hit nine homers in the past two games.
Baltimore battered Boston starter Aaron Cook, who lasted just 11 batters. Three hitters into the game, Chris Davis slugged his 29th homer of the season, a two-run shot to right-center field.
Later in the inning, Flaherty launched a 2-1 pitch from Cook into the right-center field seats to give the Orioles a 6-1 lead.
Flaherty, Baltimore’s Rule 5 pick this offseason, recorded a career-high five RBI after his run-scoring double capped a two-out rally in a three-run fifth inning. Mark Reynolds’s two-out double was followed by a blooper by Manny Machado that fell in front of Podsednik in center, scoring Reynolds and putting Machado on second.
Flaherty then doubled to score Machado, and No. 9 hitter Taylor Teagarden drove in Flaherty to put the Orioles up, 9-1.
Podsednik led off the game by perfectly pushing a bunt to the right of the mound past Tillman. Flaherty’s errant throw to first gave Podsednik second base, and he scored two batters later on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.
But the Red Sox were shut down by Tillman for the rest of the night, until Troy Patton came in and threw a scoreless ninth.
— Baltimore Sun