Last night’s game was exactly the kind of game that the 2012 Baltimore Orioles would have won, and in the manner that they would have won it. I suppose that the only difference might have been that it would have taken more than nine innings to do it…more like somewhere between 12-18 innings! However as much as people were saying that the O’s allowed two to get away over the weekend against Minnesota, they managed to pull one out of their rear ends last night in an 8-5 win over Boston at Fenway Park (snapping a three-game losing streak).
Jake Arrieta got the start and pitched only five innings before being lifted after 69 pitches. However that had very little to do with Arrieta or the way he was pitching, as there was a 43 minute rain delay between the fifth and sixth innings. The first part of the game saw intermittent rain which was heavy at times. I think that many people thought that the game would end up being suspended and re-started tonight, however eventually they started playing again. Through those five innings, Arrieta’s line was as follows: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 2 K. My personal opinion was that Arrieta showed some marginal improvement over his last start. He did walk the bottom two guys in Boston’s order on eight consecutive pitches and he labored through some of those innings. But he did as best he could to minimize the damage and ultimately put the O’s in a position to win the game.
There were probably several plays on both sides that were due to the weather, including a first inning error by Shane Victorino in the field, and perhaps even those two above-mentioned walks that were issued by Arrieta. Victorino’s error put the Orioles in a position to strike in the first inning, after which they led 1-0. Boston would tie the game at one in the second and then take the lead after putting across two in the third. That rally started when Arrieta walked Bradly, the lead off hitter…and nothing good happens after a walk. Bradley scored on an Ellsbury triple, and Ellsbury scored on a sac fly. However the Orioles – in what was a harbinger of things to come – fought back. Markakis sent a solo home run to right field, and Adam Jones scored on a Matt Wieters single and a Bradley error. Play ’till the final out, right?!
Both teams lifted their starting pitchers following the rain delay, and the Orioles brought in Tommy Hunter…who gave up back-to-back home runs in the last of the sixth. Boston appeared to be in the driver’s seat with a 5-3 lead going into the top of the ninth and with their closer, Joel Hanrahan, heading to the mound. However these are the Fighting Showalters, and they don’t stop until the game is officially over. Chris Davis bopped his fifth home run of the season to bring the Orioles to within one. With two outs and down to his (and the Orioles’) final strike, Ryan Flaherty collected his first hit of 2013 with a seeing eye single through the hole at shortstop. Alexi Casilla, who pinch-ran for Flaherty, stole second base, and Nolan Reimold drew a walk to put the go-ahead run on base. Following another walk to Nate McLouth the Orioles tied the game when Casilla was able to score on a Hanrahan wild pitch. With the game tied at five, the Fenway faithful saw a familiar sight…Manny coming to the plate with two on late in a tie game.
The difference of course is that Manny Ramirez is no longer with Boston (nor is he relevant in the baseball world), and I’m referring to the Orioles’ Manny Machado. With the count at 1-0, Machado homered deep to left over the green monster in left as the Orioles seized the lead. After Jim Johnson sent Boston down 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth, the Orioles had their first victory of 2013 that involved late-inning dramatics.
First off, Ryan Flaherty’s single is something that is probably going to get lost in the overall game story, and it shouldn’t. Flaherty’s been much maligned by fans in the first week plus, and not only did he finally come through but he did so in the clutch. However prior to the 9th inning, the O’s were headed to their fourth consecutive loss to drop them two games under .500. As I’ve said previously, it’s still early in the season. However this is a win to which the O’s might point back at the end of the season and say that winning this game was a key to a lot of things. Again, let’s not get overly excited about it given that it’s still early and it’s only one game, but these are certainly the kinds of wins that sometimes send teams on a roll to a point.
The Orioles are now a part of history so to speak, as for the first time since 2003 Boston failed to sell out Fenway Park last night. So the next time someone asks against whom that streak ended, you’ll know it was the O’s! The series in Boston wraps up tonight as Chris Tillman hopes to improve over a fairly lackluster start last weekend at the yard. With John Lackey having been sent to the DL, Alfredo Aceves will come out of the bullpen and make a spot start for Boston. On a side note, the Orioles also traded reliever Luis Ayala to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher Chris Jones. Jones is being assigned to double-A Bowie.