To use Bruce Springsteen’s song as an intro, Mark Reynolds must really have a “Hungry Heart.” Reynolds committed two errors at first base last night in the last of the fifth which were later taken off of his stat line. On a routine ground ball Reynolds fumbled the throw and Daniel Nava was safe at first. Later in the inning Scott Podsednik laid down a sac bunt, and for some odd reason Reynolds threw across the diamond to try to get the lead runner at first. The throw was wide, however the official scorer later ruled that third baseman Steve Tolleson could have fielded the ball and awarded an E5 instead of an E3.
At that point, Reynolds was drawing the ire of Oriole fans (granted the team was on the road). However in the top of the sixth Reynolds showed how short of a memory a big leaguer needs to have. Following a Matt Wieters double Reynolds surprised everyone (including Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis) by bunting down the third base line to get on base. With the scored tied at two and runners at the corners with no outs, Steve Pearce hit a sac fly to center field to give the Orioles the lead. A few days ago I wrote about the Orioles being overly predictable at times. That Reynolds bunt was about as unpredictable as you can get. That shows a certain nimbleness in the Orioles’ bats that we haven’t seen over the past few weeks. All in all, Reynolds finished two-for-three with two walks and an RBI.
Jason Hammel gave up two runs (one earned), five hits, 3 walks, and seven strikeouts over five innings. Boston’s a team that takes a lot of pitches and fouls quite a few off, which attests to Hammel’s 106 pitches in five innings. Both Hammel and Buck Showalter would like for him (Hammel) to go deeper into games than that, however it does go down as a quality start. Hammel left the game with a 3-2 lead before being non-decisioned. Ultimately this goes down as a back-and-forth affair, with the Orioles taking the lead in the 7th on Mark Reynolds’ two RBI-single. (Hammel had already been absolved of a decision when Troy Patton gave up two runs earlier in the game giving Boston the lead.) Going to the ninth, the O’s held a 6-4 lead with Jim Johnson coming in to go for his 18th straight save…
…with one on, two outs, and two strikes in the ninth (and Jared Saltalamacchia at the plate), things looked good. However Slatalamacchia hit a deep shot towards the top of the green monster in left field. It appeared to hit off of some padding at the top of the wall (above the white home run line), and fell back into play. Buck Showalter immediately demanded for a review; MASN replays were somewhat inconclusive, however it appeared that a fan might have touched the ball when it hit off the top of the wall. Keeping in mind that the Orioles can’t even get fan interference calls in their own ballpark (going back to a game against NY earlier this year), needless to say the umps didn’t overturn the call. With the score tied at six most Oriole fans figured it was over. In fact, many probably felt that Boston would probably find a way to score in that inning to win the game, forcing the Orioles to watch another Red Sox celebration at their expense.
Luckily, the team had other ideas. Mark Reynolds started the 10th inning off with a great at-bat, which yielded a walk. He went to second on Pearce’s sacrifice, and later scored on Ronnie Paulino’s RBI-single. Paulino would score on Ryan Flaherty’s RBI-single, putting the score at 8-6. Buck Showalter showed a lot of confidence in sending Jim Johnson back out to pitch in the 10th, however I think he wanted Johnson to have the chance to win after blowing the save. Boston went quietly in the 10th, and the Orioles reclaimed their tie with Tampa for first place in the AL East.
Reynolds’ performance stands out for me more than anything. The guy’s glove has plenty of holes in it, and some of the criticism directed at him is fair. However he most certainly atoned for his mistakes in this game, and quite honestly the Orioles wouldn’t have won without him. Oriole bats quietly came back to life last night, and perhaps the most important stat of all was that they scored eight runs without a homer. All of those runs were manufactured. All good signs which point to the Birds coming out of their most recent slumber. This team also showed those “Fighting Showalters” characteristics by not putting their heads down when things went wrong. They minimized the damage, and went back out and did the opponent one better.
The Orioles will go for the series win tonight at Fenway as Wei-Yin Chen takes to the mound against Boston’s Josh Beckett. Both pitchers have struggled a bit of late, however Chen settled down very nicely after giving up five runs in the first inning against Tampa on Friday night. Beckett’s 4.26 ERA is something that has Boston stirring right now, and it’s apparent that his attitude isn’t where it should be in the clubhouse (especially following last year’s chicken-and-beer-gate). Boston’s bullpen has been solid of late, but they’re still somewhat suspect; if the Birds can chase Beckett early, not only do they get to the bullpen but the crowd will turn sour on the Red Sox. Perhaps Mark Reynolds will have his say in that again tonight.
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