I don’t even know where to begin on this one. I thought we had seen it all back in May when the Orioles outlasted the Boston Red Sox in 17 innings, using Chris Davis as a relief pitcher. However this one might take the cake. Or given what time the game ended on the east coast it might take the bacon and eggs. The Orioles officially beat out that 17-inning game in May with an 18-inning spot here in September to defeat the Seattle Mariners 4-2. I suppose that the only thing this one didn’t feature was a position player having to pitch, and that was only due to the fact that rosters have expanded in September.
Miguel Olivo sent a two-run homer into the seats in the fourth off of Wei-Yin Chen, who lasted 5.1 innings. Chen didn’t pitch poorly in the least, but his pitch count was up to 103. Going into the 9th he appeared to be in line for the loss, however Chris Davis (remember him from the last marathon game?!) sent a two-run single to center which tied the game. And…we remained tied. We remained tied into the wee hours of the east coast morning, and then some. This was one of those games where you hope there aren’t negative impacts down the road as a result. 18 innings is a long time, however as I said at this point in the season rosters have expanded so teams have more players at their disposal. Furthermore, the last time this happened to the Orioles it was a getaway day in Boston and the Birds had a game at home the following night. In this case they have one more in Seattle before an off day on Thursday and then a three-game series in Boston. Seattle will be in the same tired boat as the O’s tonight, and then they’ll have a day off (which will admittedly be more of a travel day, however the fact is that the players will be able to rest).
Taylor Teagarden pinch-hit for Xavier Avery in the top of the 18th, and promptly did what he’s done so many other times this year. Teagarden doesn’t get too many hits, but when he does they’re normally big ones. Teagarden’s RBI-single broke the ages-old tie, and gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Mark Reynolds grounded into a fielders choice later in the inning which scored another run, and the Orioles led 4-2. Luckily for all parties involved, Seattle went quietly in the last of the inning to secure the win for the O’s.
We’ve talked about battling to the end the entire year, but…wow. One game like this is pretty spectacular, but this was the second time the O’s had a marathon game of this sort in 2012. It kind of makes you wary when you buy a ticket to a game in that you wonder if you’ll be home in the normal three hours it takes to play nine innings, or if there’ll be more of a time commitment involved! You really can’t say enough about the relievers on both sides that held the respective offenses at bay for so long in extras. In the Orioles’ case it’s worth mentioning that Pedro Strop, who’s be maligned of late, came in and pitched one inning and gave up one hit. The entire bullpen performed in a virtuoso manner, and one would think that the O’s would feel very comfortable with this group of relievers as they knock on the door of the post season.
Joe Saunders takes to the mound in Seattle tonight in the series finale. The Orioles have already won the series, however at this point they’re just looking to stockpile wins wherever they can in order to qualify for the postseason. The O’s will face “King Felix” Hernandez, who hasn’t pitched well in September after rattling off nine straight wins earlier in the season. Hernandez tied a career-high and gave up seven earned runs in his previous start against Toronto, so either he’s exactly what the tired Oriole lineup needs or the opposite is true. Needless to say, I think players on both sides will probably get a bit of a pass today in terms of how they play. 18 innings is a LOOOOONG time!
With last night’s win, the Orioles once again drew even with the New York Yankees and are now in a first place tie in the American League East once again. New York will play a split-doubleheader today with Toronto due to the fact that last night’s game at Yankee Stadium was rained out. So the O’s could trail NY by one full game or be one full game in first alone (or somewhere in between) before they even take the field tonight in Seattle. There’s one term that I’ve avoided using thus far with this Baltimore Orioles team, however given that they’re now 2-0 in 17+ innings games, could they be considered a team of destiny?