May 17, 2012
It wasn't the two-run single by J.J.
Hardy in the seventh inning that caused the most angst for Royals
reliever Aaron Crow, even though they wound up being the deciding
It was the two walks that he issued before Hardy stepped to the
They loaded the bases for the Orioles' shortstop, whose single
snapped a tie and allowed Baltimore to squeak out a 5-3 victory
over Kansas City on Thursday.
"I just didn't get the job done. Putting those two guys on gave
them an extra run," Crow said. "In that situation, I need to go
out and attack those guys, and if they beat you, so be it. I just
can't give guys free bases and it ended up hurting me today."
It certainly hurt the Royals, whose bullpen squandered a two-run
cushion in the ninth inning the previous night, and then gave up a
homer to Adam Jones in the 15th inning for a 4-3 loss.
Jones added a two-run homer in the fourth on Thursday to
jumpstart the Orioles' comeback.
It was his third straight game going deep. Baltimore is 12-1
when Jones hits a home run, and his 13 homers on the year matches
what he had by June 25 last season.
"He's hot right now. He's really hot," Hardy said. "He's been
swinging the bat impressively."
Brian Matusz (3-4) won for the third time in four starts after
enduring a career-worst 12-decision losing streak. He allowed three
runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings.
Relievers Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop made it through two innings
unscathed, and Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 14th save. He's
converted 22 straight since Aug. 14, 2011.
Luke Hochevar (3-4) pitched well for six innings. His only real
miscue was the two-run homer by Jones in the fourth. But the
right-hander ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing back-to-back
singles by Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis, the start of a three-run
inning for the Orioles.
Hochevar was pulled after Davis' base hit, which center fielder
Jarrod Dyson grossly misplayed. The ball bounced in front of him
and went to the wall, allowing Betemit to score.
"I want him to be aggressive, but I don't want the ball getting
by him in that situation," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He had
a shot at it and realized the ball had some topspin on it, and
stopped and it skipped right by him. In that situation you do not
want the ball to get by you. That opened up a whole different can
of worms for us."
Crow came into the game and got two quick outs, but then walked
No. 9 hitter Luis Exposito and leadoff hitter Xavier Avery. Hardy
followed with a two-run single that broke the tie and sent the
Orioles to their seventh straight road win, their best stretch
Kansas City had ample opportunities to pick up a couple wins
against Baltimore, but instead wound up with a pair of frustrating
losses in the two-game, midweek series.
Jonathan Broxton blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the
opener Wednesday night, and the Royals eventually lost their third
straight extra-inning game. They jumped out to a three-run lead
after three innings Thursday before the Orioles mounted their
Humberto Quintero's two-run double and Johnny Giavotella's RBI
single to right brought in the runs for Kansas City, but that's all
that Matusz allowed in an otherwise strong outing.
Hochevar was just as good most of the afternoon.
After watching his ERA balloon to a run per inning, the former
No. 1 overall draft pick put together seven innings of three-hit
ball in his last start against the White Sox. Hochevar ran his
scoreless innings streak to 10 before making a mistake on a 3-2
pitch to Jones.
"My focus has not changed from the beginning of the year to
now," he said. "Still going out with the mindset of executing
quality pitches and fight like crazy to get this team a win."