The early returns on the Buck Era are positive. The Birds shook off a sluggish offensive start with a four-run outburst in the sixth inning to pull out a 6-3 win over the Angels. Luke Scott's booming two-run homer nearly reached Eutaw Street and gave the O's a lead that they did not relinquish. Rookie third baseman Josh Bell hit a two-run double for his first career extra-base hit and runs batted in. Matt Wieters added three hits and two RBI, and Felix Pie had two hits, two runs scored, and a stolen base on his special night. The pitchers held up their end of the bargain, as Jeremy Guthrie held the Angels in check with five hits allowed in seven brisk innings and benefited from some rare run support in earning his fifth win of 2010. The bullpen was perfect, with Mike Gonzalez breezing through five Halo batters (and even earning a warm ovation when he exited the field) and Alfredo Simon having a much easier night than usual in striking out the only batter he faced to end the game.
Although it was a typically sparse weeknight crowd (16,723 announced), those who came out were livelier than usual. Buck earned loud cheers for his every appearance, from a pregame video that aired on the scoreboard to the customary lineup card exchange at home plate to a brief trip out of the dugout to ask for clarification on a foul ball call by the home plate umpire. At several key points late in the game, the fans clapped and cheered when our pitchers got to a two-strike count without being prompted on the scoreboard (I hope that little bit of audiovisual overkill has been retired at the Yard). Just in case Buck needed a reminder that his Yankee days are far behind him, the video screen in center field showed highlights of New York's 8-2 loss to Toronto at the end of the eighth inning. The various Blue Jay scoring plays were received with raucous applause, and the lone positive Yankee clip - a home run by Mark Teixeira, of all people - was met with thunderous boos.
It's a small sample size, but the last two months of this season have a chance to be a little more fun than the first four.