BALTIMORE — With 23 Baltimore greats in attendance for a celebration commemorating the franchise’s 60th anniversary, Manager Buck Showalter said the pressure was on the current Orioles to perform well against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
Baltimore wore cream-colored replica uniforms of the inaugural 1954 club as the organization welcomed back the legends of the past, complete with a fireworks display and laser light show choreographing the club’s highlights of the past six decades.
Baltimore crushed a season-high six homers, battering the Cardinals with a 12-2 thumping — its most lopsided victory of the year — in front of an announced near sellout crowd of 43,743 at Camden Yards.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy — who has struggled this season to duplicate his power of past years — recorded his first multi-homer game of the season, including a three-run shot in the fourth inning.
The Orioles took batting practice off St. Louis pitching, adding home runs from Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty.
The Orioles — who have averaged just 2.5 runs over their past 11 home games — plated their highest run total at Camden Yards this season and their largest overall since a 14-5 win at Yankee Stadium on April 8, their eighth game of the season.
With the win, the first-place Orioles (66-49) are a season-high 17 games over .500 and remained five games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East.Since July 1, they are 23-10.
The offensive explosion overshadowed a fine pitching performance by right-hander Chris Tillman, who held the Cardinals scoreless for 62 / 3 innings before allowing a two-run homer to catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the seventh. Following Pierzynski’s shot, Tillman walked off the field to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Tillman (9-6) allowed just four hits on the night, striking out seven and walking one. Tillman has now allowed three earned runs or fewer over 12 consecutive starts dating back to June 10. Over his last two starts, Tillman is pitching to a 1.23 ERA, allowing two runs over 13 / innings and earning wins in back-to-back starts.
For just the second time in club history, the Orioles hits multiple homers off three different opposing pitchers, matching a feat reached on May 17, 1967 at Boston.
One Orioles Hall of Famer was noticeably absent, but former Orioles manager Earl Weaver would have been proud of the O’s showing. In managing some of the best teams in Orioles history, Weaver — who died in January, 2013 — held to the importance of pitching, defense and the three-run homer.
The Orioles hit two three-run homers, including Manny Machado’s three-run blast in the second inning off Cardinals starter Justin Masterson that put the Orioles up 4-0.
Machado -- who spent his pregame batting practice round soaking in knowledge from Hall of Famer Frank Robinson behind the cage -- took a first-pitch delivery from Masterson over the Orioles bottom-tier bullpen beyond the left-center field fence an estimated 410 feet.
Hardy, who entered the season with just four homers this year after averaging 25 homers his previous three seasons with the Orioles, homered in consecutive at bats, hitting a solo homer of Masterson to lead off the third inning and then blasting a three-run shot off left-handed reliever Nick Greenwood on a 1-0 pitch in the fourth inning. Before Friday, Hardy hasn’t homered since July 19.
After Jones hit a solo homer in the fifth off Greenwood — a solo blast that was his 22nd of the season -- Davis hit his third homer in his last four games, taking a 3-2 pitch from St. Louis left-handed reliever Sam Freeman well over the centerfield fence.
Flaherty ended the assault with an opposite-field leadoff homer off Freeman in the sixth, putting the Orioles up, 12-0.
— Baltimore Sun