At some point last night, Kevin Gausman turned in one of the better starts of his young career. Gausman’s line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K. However that pitching line and the performance it represents almost gets overshadowed in a sense given the context of the Baltimore Orioles’ 5-4 win over Boston. With the game teetering on going from extra innings to a marathon, the Birds seemed to collectively decide that they’d had enough in the last of the 13th. The worst part about these types of games is that they severely tax your bullpen. However the Orioles are probably in better shape than Boston, who played a 14 inning game earlier this week in Tampa. However all of that is part of the game and you have to deal with it.
The O’s struck first blood in the third when Danny Valencia sent the second pitch he saw into the seats, giving the O’s a 1-0 lead. Manny Machado‘s RBI-single later in the inning scored Ryan Flaherty, and Chris Davis‘ RBI-single would score Machado later in the inning. The Orioles suddenly had a 3-0 lead over Boston and their starter Felix Doubront. However the BoSox battled back in the top of the fourth, with David Ortiz and Mike Carp hitting solo homers to close to within 3-2. The O’s would put another across, however Boston would knot up the score in the seventh on a sac fly-RBI and a fielder’s choice-RBI. Those runs were charged to Brian Matusz, as Kevin Gausman had already departed.
While the O’s would have liked him to go deeper into the game, Gausman gets a very quality start for last night. In fairness, Boston fouls a lot of pitches off, which adds to a starter’s pitch total. However perhaps more impressively than what Gausman did, the Orioles’ bullpen was about as solid as one could ask last night. The bullpen pitched eight innings and gave up two runs over three hits, striking out six. As a staff, the Orioles didn’t walk anyone last night and given that nothing good ever happens after a walk that might well have figured into the end result of the game. Boston’s bullpen was pretty solid as well, and the fact is that in these types of games at some point someone has to score and win the game.
MASN analyst Jim Palmer was fairly complimentary of home plate umpire Jim Joyce in that he felt there was consistency in the strike zone. I’m going to defer to Palmer’s opinion given the fact that he’s a hall of fame pitcher, but I felt there was a bit of a revolving strike zone last night. In general I think that Jim Joyce is a decent umpire (and very respectable at that), but I felt he had a bad night last night. One thing that I did notice was that three different Oriole hitters were plunked for some reason last night, with nary a word from Joyce. There was the semblance of Boston trying to drag the Orioles into a bean ball war or something along those lines, but it didn’t appear the O’s took that bait. They say that the best revenge is winning, and while that might be true I wouldn’t be surprised to see David Ortiz brushed back tonight at some point.
As the game went to the 13th inning T.J. McFarland entered in relief for the O’s. Pedro Strop was the only guy left in the ‘pen, however he was joined by starter Freddy Garcia just in case someone else was needed. McFarland got the BoSox 1-2-3, and we went to the last of the inning. The Orioles recorded two quick outs before Nick Markakis worked the count and got on with a walk. He went to second base on an Adam Jones single, and suddenly the Orioles had the winning run in scoring position. That brought Chris Davis to the plate with a chance to be the hero. In these situations the hitter has more of an advantage because with two outs the runners will be in motion on contact as opposed to having to wait to see if the ball falls in. Davis hit a blooper to shallow left field…that fell in. Had there been less than two outs, that probably would have simply loaded the bases because Markakis would have had to wait to see if it was a hit or an out. However with two outs he could run on contact, and when all was said and done he stood on home plate after scoring the Orioles’ fifth run, giving them a 5-4 walk off win.
Again, these games are not easy on teams due to the taxing nature they have on your bullpen. But give the fact that New York lost (in 18 innings no less) in Oakland earlier in the night, this was a big game for the Birds. Granted they still have three games remaining against Boston this weekend, however this was certainly a good start. Kevin Gausman pitched well enough to deserve his first big league win, however instead it was T.J. McFarland getting his first win in the majors. That’s just how these kinds of games go in a sense; neither starter figures into the decision. Gausman was optioned to triple-A Norfolk after the game for the sole reason that the Orioles wanted to call up a reliever for bullpen support tonight after such a long game. Normally a player has to be in the minors for ten days, however with Miguel Gonzalez expected to go on the paternity list any day awaiting the birth of his child it could be much sooner for Gausman to return. A corresponding roster move will be announced today.