Tonight I was lucky enough to be at the Orioles game. It was a beautiful evening in Baltimore, I had great seats right at the left field foul pole (second row). I had good friends around me and I was watching my favorite team. But in the back of my mind there was a sense of pessimism. Jake Arrieta was on the mound, and he was coming off a terrible outing. Meanwhile the Jays were pitching their ace, Ricky Romero, who had wins in his last three starts.
The game started the way I thought it was going to. Arrieta did not look sharp. He gave up a first inning home run to former O Corey Patterson. Then another run in the second. In the third, Arrieta got into huge trouble by loading the bases with no outs (the last two bases coming on walks). But this is when the tide started to change in the Oriole’s favor, and where I started to allow myself – at least briefly – the glimmer of optimism. Because the next Jay hitter hit a grounder to Mark Reynolds, who was playing in at third. He threw to Weiters at home for one, and back to first – double play – no runs scored. Arrieta got the next batter to fly out to right field. Bases loaded. No outs. No runs. Sweet.
In the fourth, the Jays got a run strictly on the speed of Rajai Davis. Who, after getting on first on a fielder’s choice stole second. Stole third. And then scored on a sacrafice fly. I’m telling you – Matt Weiters is the best at throwing out runners. But Davis, he is beyond fast. I’m not sure that any catcher can get this guy out. After the 4th inning, Arrieta calmed down, and pitched great in the 5th and 6th.
Now, on to the batting heroics of the evening. A few things, before we get to Mr. Reynolds. First, Nick Markakis was 2 for 4, and the 2 singles were nice, hard shots. We can only hope that this is the beginning of Nick getting his groove back. Second, it was great to get Derek Lee back in the lineup and he didn’t disappoint. Lee went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Now for my apologies…
Anyone who reads my blog entries knows that I have been particularly hard on Mark Reynolds. This is with obvious reason. The guys is batting .188 and has struck out 56 times in 181 at-bats (31% of time he is in the batter’s box, he strikes out). Often times it is with men on base and less than two outs. So, yes, I have wondered (and written) that I am not sure how he keeps his job in the lineout day in and day out. But tonight, for one moment, I understood why. Because there is always that chance that he could hit one out. And, I guess when a guy has that kind of power potential, sometimes you just have to keep him in there. Now, did I think Reynold’s was going to come through in the 6th inning with the bases loaded and one out? I’ll tell you this much. When my friend Hector said that he had a feeling Reynold’s was going to hit one out, I told him that he was living in Fantasyland. Turns out that the stats were on my side. Reynolds was batting .115 lifetime with the bases loaded and had never hit a grand slam in his career. But that is the beauty of the game of baseball. On any given at-bat, anything can happen, and you can find yourself in Fantasyland. I’m just glad that I was there to see it.
And, at least for the next two weeks, I am not going to write anything negative about Reynolds. Because you just never know.
PS – click here to see the replay of Mark Reynold’s first ever grand slam.