The Orioles take the first of the three game set in a very dramatic and exciting fashion. Britton had his worst start of the season going 6 innings but giving up a career-high 9 hits, which he thankfully limited to only 3 runs, one of which was a solo homer. He also walked 2 and only fanned 2, but he’s not a high strikeout kind of pitcher. His outing, again, resulted in a no decision, but it was extremely close to being a loss.
Though Britton didn’t have his great stuff tonight, he did get out of a few jams. In the first after Gordon scored, there was still a man on first and second with one out but Britton got the DP ball. Again in the 5th, there was a man on first and second with 2 outs, but Britton got the ground out ball. In the 6th, he really faced trouble after giving up the 3rd run of the game. Aviles doubled, sending Butler to third with only one out. Britton got an out but then walked Escobar to load the bases with 2 outs and, again, he got out of it to end his night. So, the Royals could have done a lot more damage and luckily they didn’t because the O’s scored just enough runs to win.
The bullpen did it’s job tonight. Accardo came in in the 7th and gave up 2 singles followed by a walk to load the bases with 2 outs but he got out of the inning without giving up any runs. He also pitched 2 consecutive outs in the 8th followed by Rapada coming in to get the last out in the 8th.
In the 9th, Alfredo Simon came on the mound to make his debut since September 26 of last season. He’s had a lot of off-season problems being accused of murder in his home of the Dominican Republic and spent 2 months in jail there. Nonetheless, he was activated last week and retired the side in order in 12 pitches with a strikeout to end the inning. He also ended up getting the win.
After the first few innings, I started getting very worried and frustrated about the offensive situation. As said in the series preview, Britton has become the new victim of no run support after Guthrie. Duffy, the Royals starting pitcher tonight, was good throwing 5 1/3 inning giving up 5 hits, 2 runs, and fanning 6. However, those 2 runs didn’t come until the 6th inning. Up until that point, the O’s only had 3 hits and all of them came in different innings. Finally, Duffy gave up an RBI double to Matt Wieters to break the shutout. This caused Coleman to come in for relief and Luke Scott got a pinch-hit infield single off of him to score Markakis, which is the other run charged to Duffy. After that, the Royals bullpen only gave up one hit so it seemed like the O’s were going to lose a one-run game.
That is until the bottom of the 9th came along and Joakim Soria came to the mound. He got Mark Reynolds out easily (but then again who can’t get him out easily?) but J.J Hardy doubled after. Felix Pie came in to pinch hit for Brandon Snyder and boy did he do his job. He hit an RBI double to tie up the game at 3. Soria was then able to strike out Andino bringing Adam Jones to the plate. He had been 1 for 4 on the night with the only hit given up by the bullpen in the later innings, a double. However, he came through big time hitting a walk-off two run homer, the O’s first walk-off homer since Brian Roberts hit one on August 9th last season.
The good wins and good momentum keep on coming for the O’s. After a terrible 17-5 loss to the Nationals last Friday, they’ve won 3 in a row with an 8-3 win against the Nats and an exciting 2-1 win against them as well to win the series. The Orioles continue their exciting winning fashion tonight with the walk-off homer by AJ. It really seems like the O’s have started to figure out how to win close games and get clutch hits when they need them. I know it’s against hovering-around-.500 teams but these are the teams the O’s will be facing this month (at least most of them are). And if the Orioles are able to string together a bunch of wins against these teams, they’ll have the confidence and momentum to be able to beat better teams and, at that point, they’ll be better than .500.
But, that’s all in the future. At the moment, the O’s are 22-24 and 3.5 games back from the division-leading Yankees. Yep, the Yankees are now at the top of the AL East and the Red Sox are .5 games back and the Rays are now in 3rd place at 1 game back. This division is obviously very, very tight and it seems to be anyone’s game at the moment, which is good news for us fans.