Dominant Guthrie overpowers Tribe
Tejada provides big hit and Patterson delivers the defense
BALTIMORE -- How well were things going for Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie on Friday night? Even his teammates couldn't hit him.
Following Guthrie's dominant eight innings of one-run baseball, the right-hander managed to avoid the celebratory shaving cream pie-in-the-face -- delivered by reliever Will Ohman -- with the majority of the white foam coating his black uniform instead.
The misfire did little to dampen the mood surrounding the Orioles' 8-1 series-opening win over the Indians. The contest was delayed an hour at the onset, but was well worth the wait given the performance the crowd of 25,902 at Camden Yards paid witness to.
Guthrie allowed a two-out, first-inning hit -- a bloop RBI single to Jhonny Peralta -- and then proceeded to dissect the Tribe's lineup with surgical precision. He retired the next 16 straight, stifling an Indians offense that entered Friday's game with 10 or more hits in its four previous contests and five of its last seven games.
"[Guthrie] was dominant," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "Regardless of our offense being good or bad, he deserves credit."
That the acknowledgment came from an organization that gave up on Guthrie -- exposing him on the waiver wire in the winter of 2007 -- made Friday's outing even sweeter. Following a rainout and doubleheader in Minnesota last weekend, Guthrie told Orioles manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz he would pitch on three days' rest if needed to face Cleveland.
"That kind of tipped me off that he was going to be ready to pitch [Friday night]," Trembley said.
"He may not say it, but I'm sure this was a big game for him."
And he responded in vintage Guthrie fashion. Coming off a dismal '09 campaign, Guthrie has made it clear since Spring Training that his top priority is getting back to being the pitcher he was in seasons past.
"At the end of spring, with the adjustment that I made arm-slot wise, I felt confidence again," Guthrie said. "I felt like when I pitched, I had weapons to use against the hitters."
Consider Friday a full-arsenal attack. Following Peralta's hit, Cleveland didn't have another baserunner until Travis Hafner opened the seventh with a single. Guthrie answered that hit by retiring the side, bringing his pitch total to an economical 97 through seven innings. The right-hander tossed eight frames for the first time since July 19, 2009.
He was backed by seven runs of support from the O's offense, which has plated 13 runs in his last two outings, helping Guthrie notch his first two wins this season. The Orioles scored just nine runs while Guthrie was on the hill in his first five starts.
"They've earned a lot of wins," designated hitter Luke Scott said of Guthrie and the entire Orioles pitching staff, who were run-starved for most of the season's first month.
"They've earned more wins than what they've shown [on their record]. And if they can just hold on, keep pitching the way they are, we are going to be alright."
Scott, who hit RBI singles in the third and sixth inning, has been right in the middle of the O's offensive turnaround. He has a five-game hitting streak and delivered his third consecutive multi-hit game of the season on Friday. Scott had just one multi-hit game in his previous 26 games.
"This is the best I felt all year," Scott said. "There is no confusion when I am up there [at the plate]. I am comfortable; I am just really relaxed."
While Scott's power presence has certainly been a boost, the hit that broke open the flood gates came out of the spot before him, off the bat of Miguel Tejada.
After tagging Indians starter Justin Masterson with a pair of second-inning runs, Masterson issued a pair of walks to open the sixth. One out later, the right-hander intentionally walked Nick Markakis to get Tejada -- who was 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch in his previous three at-bats.
Tejada made Masterson pay for the maneuver, delivering a two-run single into center field for the Orioles' second hit with runners in scoring position. Tejada's single gave the Orioles a three-run lead and spelled the end of Masterson's day. Red-hot Scott and Ty Wigginton followed with RBI singles and Tejada drove in his third run of the day, scoring Adam Jones, off reliever Rafael Perez in the seventh.
"That's why he's hitting in that slot," Trembley said of Tejada's sixth-inning single. "He showed a lot of patience there, made some adjustments from his previous at-bats and came up with the big hit.
"That kind of broke it open. We had some early opportunities and weren't putting Masterson away. That finally led to that."
While Tejada's ball was the game's big hit, Corey Patterson's glove was perhaps the game's biggest play. With the Orioles down 1-0 in the third inning, Patterson made a leaping catch at the wall, slamming his right shoulder into the left-field padding to rob Shin-Soo Choo of a possible homer.
"I just made sure I stayed with it off the bat and was able to time the leap just right and made the catch," Patterson said.
The speedy outfielder, who was recalled prior to Wednesday's game, had three hits and two runs scored on Friday, but prides himself more on making stout defensive plays.
"I'll take that any day over a home run," Patterson said. "Because pitching and defense wins games."
It's a recipe the Orioles hope to replicate. After going 2-16 to open the season, they are 10-8 in their last 18 games.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.