One night after winning an 18-inning game, I don’t think most people would have blamed the Orioles had they in effect “taken the night off” last night in Seattle. After all, it’s tough to sweep someone in baseball (especially at their place) and…the Birds were tired. However Seattle was also, and Seattle’s a much less-potent team than the Orioles who are simply playing out a string and trying to get their season over with. More importantly, these are the Fighting Showalter’s we’re talking about! They always play hard until the final out of the game, and they take nothing for granted. With all of that said, who was really prepared for extras again last night?!
Joe Saunders pitched what was probably his best outing since joining the Orioles. Saunders’ line: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Again, he was pitching against a very tired lineup in their own right, however Saunders mowed them down early and often. However he was matched point-for-point by Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, who also went eight innings and gave up one run. The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Mark Reynolds singled home Chris Davis, however Saunders surrendered a solo homer in the last of the inning. After a marathon like an 18-inning game, if your next day’s starter goes eight innings you’re probably really satisfied with that because he’s saved a lot of bullpen work. owever that’s assuming that the game was going to end after nine innings…this one didn’t!
Seattle loaded the bases against Pedro Strop in the 10th, and Showalter summoned Luis Ayala from the bullpen as the game hung in the balance. He induced a fly out, and we played on into the 11th inning. It appeared that nobody really wanted to go any further than 11 innings. The Orioles’ team charter was waiting to take them to Boston, where they’ll have an off day today before starting a series at Fenway tomorrow night. So in the top of the 11th following a Nate McLouth single, Adam Jones decided to effectively end he game by torching his old team once again. With a full count, Jones sent a deep shot to left; when it landed it gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Jim Johnson pitched the last of the inning, and while Seattle threatened he was able to hold on for his 45th save of the season. That ties a franchise-high set by Randy Myers.
It seems like each time this team does something that gives us pause, they better it the next day or at some point along the line. Winning a game with those kind of dramatics the night after going 18 innings is pretty clutch. I’m not sure that even the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees in their hey days would have been able to do that. However Showalter’s kept this group grounded by taking each game one at a time. On Tuesday his attitude was probably “we’re trying to win tonight and we’ll worry about tomorrow’s game tomorrow.” Obviously so far it’s worked with this group. But to win this game after that marathon…wow, just wow! These guys earned the day off today in Boston, however you almost wish that they could keep on playing for fear they’ll lose momentum. That’s doubtful though…not this team.