Burres, Orioles topple White Sox
Offense comes around, supports Baltimore starter
CHICAGO -- The Orioles weren't intimidated by perfection on Saturday, when they shrugged off an impeccable start from Chicago's John Danks and got one of their own from Brian Burres. Danks threw five perfect innings, but the Orioles broke out in the sixth to support Burres and earn a 5-1 win over the White Sox in the first act of a day-night doubleheader.
"Burres out-pitched me today," Danks said after the game. "I felt like I threw the ball well, but he was better."
Danks (2-2) hadn't allowed a run in his last two starts, and his streak reached 19 2/3 scoreless innings before Baltimore broke through. Center fielder Adam Jones broke up the no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the sixth, and backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz drilled his first career home run to give the Orioles (14-9) a two-run lead.
Meanwhile, Burres was spinning his own gem. Burres (3-1) gave up isolated hits in the first and second innings, but then he retired 18 of the next 19 batters he faced. The southpaw never allowed a runner to reach scoring position and shut out the White Sox (12-10) through the eighth, extending his own scoreless streak to 13 1/3 innings.
"He had a great feel for all of his pitches, kept the ball down [and] changed speeds," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "He pitched in and out and had a real good tempo. And we really needed it, because we were matching up [against] a guy who had 19 scoreless innings. We found a way to break through. Quiroz got the big hit to get us started, but it starts with pitching."
"He's just throwing the ball really, really well," said Quiroz. "He's spotting his fastball. We used a lot of changeups [and] we used a lot of breaking balls today. He's spotting everything. When a pitcher does that, that's when they have the most success.
"Every single pitch he made up or down in the dirt, they were purpose pitches to try to get the hitters off balance."
Burres, who served as a swingman last season, only faced two batters over the minimum on Saturday. The southpaw had never thrown eight innings in the big leagues, and he said he likely could've pitched the ninth. Burres had warmed up and gotten one out before Friday's game was rained out, and he said it didn't really affect him on Saturday.
"I felt just as good as I did yesterday," he said. "That kind of thing has happened to me a couple times in the Minor Leagues, and it never really bothered me, so I knew when he asked me yesterday if I would be good [that] I would be."
Baltimore started out cold, chasing everything Danks had to offer. The Orioles went down in order in each of the first five innings, recording five groundouts, three strikeouts and three popups. Trembley said they changed their approach midway through the game, and that change in philosophy allowed them to take the game's first lead.
"I think it's two sides of the game, if you've seen us play," said Trembley. "The first half of the game, [with] a guy like that, we're going to try to get him early. We had to change our game plan halfway through the game. We started taking some pitches, working the count. We got the big hit. He hung a changeup, and Quiroz hit it."
"He made a mistake pitch," added Quiroz. "I don't think he wanted to throw that pitch right there. I think he wanted it more down. It was a situation where I was trying to hit the ball the other way. We had a man at second base. He actually did try to throw a ball in there for me to get jammed. But after that, when he threw that changeup, he left it up."
The Orioles left the bases loaded in the seventh inning, but they added three more runs in the ninth to provide the final margin, a rally spearheaded by a two-run double from second baseman Brian Roberts. Matt Albers got two outs in the ninth but loaded the bases, and closer George Sherrill hit one batter to force in a run but still earned his ninth save.
Burres allowed a hit in the first inning, but Jim Thome never moved past first base. The southpaw allowed another hit in the second, but he got a fielder's choice and a caught stealing. From there, the White Sox only had one more baserunner against Baltimore's starter, and that came on a base hit by catcher Toby Hall in the sixth inning.
Now, the challenge is for Burres to consolidate his gains and continue to thrive every time out.
"He's improved the movement on his pitches. He's taking something off his fastball, so he's really got more than one fastball," said Trembley. "And he's learned how to ride the ball in on right-handed hitters a little bit better. I give [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] a lot of credit. I had Brian in Triple-A and we had him last year, and when he gets in trouble, he gets too far on top and his ball straightens out. For him, he's better off throwing at 86-87 [mph] than he is at 89-90.
"He's got more movement when he doesn't try to throw as hard. When he tries to throw too hard -- and you guys have seen this in the past -- what ends up happening is he pitches behind and he gets a lot of three-ball counts."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.