Orioles take flight, win in Showalter's debut
Scott homers, Guthrie solid on hill to end three-game skid
BALTIMORE-- They hustled and hit, stole and slid. And Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie dealt.
The Buck Showalter era started with a bang on Tuesday night as an invigorated O's team -- fresh off a 1-6 road trip -- topped the Angels, 6-3, in an exciting series-opening win that, for many players, signified a fresh start.
"It felt like a nice Opening Day for us," said Guthrie, who was excited to come to Camden Yards after watching Showalter's introductory news conference on Monday.
The buzz continued during Showalter's pregame talk and lasted throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour game as Showalter's mere presence caused the crowd of 16,723 to break out in raucous applause.
"It's a long process and he has identified that," Guthrie said of Showalter's speech. "He said 'This is not going to be an overnight thing, but we've got guys here.' And he has made that very clear. He said, 'I believe in a lot of guys here, and we are going to figure things out and we are get going in the right direction.'"
Showalter, a two-time Manager of the Year, watched from the railing of the home dugout as Guthrie led the way. The right-hander, who has been the Orioles best pitcher in the second half of the season, needed just 26 pitches to get through the first three innings and didn't allow a hit until Torii Hunter's single in the fourth.
The Angels got their first leadoff man on when Alberto Callaspo singled to start the fifth and Howard Kendrick blasted Guthrie's 1-1 fastball over the left-field fence for an early two-run lead.
But Guthrie -- who entered Tuesday's game with a 1.31 ERA in three second-half starts -- didn't give in, pitching into the seventh inning for the fourth straight outing. He allowed a two-out double to Kendrick, who later scored in the seventh, and exited after giving up just five hits and three runs over seven innings.
"Guthrie has as good an arm as there is in our league," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He has good stuff, really good stuff. I know he's not having statistically a good year, but he pitched well."
But, unlike so many previous quality starts, the O's didn't let Guthrie's effort go to waste. Buoyed by Matt Wieters' 3-for-3, two-RBI night, Baltimore scored six runs to give Guthrie more support than his previous three outings combined.
"You always like to end up on the right side of [the game] regardless of the situation," said Showalter, who improved to 3-1 in managerial debuts. "But what comes first? That's the old chemistry and culture [question] and whatever you want to throw on there. What comes first? I've got news for you, W's come first. It certainly helps a lot of things carry a little more importance."
The O's got on the board off Angels starter Trevor Bell when Felix Pie opened the bottom of the fifth with a double and Wieters laced an 0-2 pitch into right-center field -- his second double -- to score Pie. Bell exited after issuing a one-out walk to Ty Wigginton in the sixth.
Wigginton advanced to second on reliever Francisco Rodriguez's balk, a call which Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out of the dugout to voice his disagreement with home-plate umpire Jerry Layne. It didn't matter. Luke Scott sent a full-count pitch into the center-field stands, to give the Orioles a one-run edge.
Scott, who has a team-leading 19 homers, acknowledged that Tuesday's win -- which improved the Orioles to 33-73 -- had a distinctly different feel.
"Everyone's been talking about [Showalter's debut]," Scott said. "Including us, the players. We want to see a change as far as results. And you know, we look at it as a fresh start."
These new-and-improved O's managed to tack on the crucial add-on runs that have often eluded them this season. Following Scott's homer, Pie singled and Rodriguez intentionally walked Wieters to bring rookie Josh Bell to the plate. Bell made him pay, punching a 2-0 pitch into left field for a bases-clearing double to extend the O's lead to three.
"Those runs right there, they help everyone just relax," Scott said of Bell's two RBIs, which were the first of his Major League career. "It's kind of like a momentum builder, guys get up there and the next thing you know guys are getting confident. Guys are playing more relaxed. They start believing, 'Hey, we can do this.' And things start rolling in our favor."
And they kept on rolling, as Michael Gonzalez continued to make a bid to return to the closer's role with a scoreless five outs following Guthrie. Gonzalez has allowed just one earned run in seven outings -- a stretch of eight innings -- since coming off the disabled list and handed the ball to Alfredo Simon to record the final out.
"Believe me, I know the save rule and, quite frankly, it doesn't carry much weight with me," Showalter said. "I like the win rule a little bit better."
Gonzalez, who has booed at Camden Yards earlier in the season after pitching to an 18.00 ERA -- including two blown saves -- in his first three outings, said the key in his resurgence has just been pitching healthy.
"I'm just going along with what I've been doing before [the injury]," said Gonzalez, who like so many other Orioles was inspired by Showalter's pregame message. "I'm all for it 100 percent. The guy is a winner. He wants to go out and win. It put a little fire under most of the guys here."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.