As well as things were going with Zach Britton in the role of closer for the Baltimore Orioles, you knew that at some point he’d blow a save. Unfortunately for the Birds, he didn’t just blow a save – he had a game blow up in his face when Carlos Beltran hit a walk off two-run homer after New York had come back to tie the game in the last of the ninth. The key moment in the inning? A walk to Mark Texeira.
Ubaldo Jimenez labored through five innings plus, leaving him one out short of a quality start. However while he loaded the bases twice, Jimenez was better than his statistics indicate. Jimenez’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 3 K. The home plate umpire established early in the game that he was calling the high strike, which in a way worked to the detriment of Jimenez who of course is trying to keep the ball down.
New York put a run on the board in the first on Mark Texeira’s RBI-double, however Oriole pitching kept them in check from that moment until the last of the ninth. Jimenez got into a groove after that in a sense, utilizing the bend but don’t break style of defense. As I said above he loaded the bases twice – but got out of the innings. He did get some help in that regard, when Brett Gardener flied out to Adam Jones in shallow center (in the last of the second) with one out. Carlos Beltran made a base running blunder by tagging up and trying to go home, and Jones gunned him down at home plate.
New York starter Hiroki Kuroda kept the Orioles out of the hit column until Nick Hundley‘s lead off double in the sixth inning. Steve Pearce‘s RBI-double tied the game, and the Orioles took the lead a moment later when Adam Jones singled Pearce home. Thus in a span of minutes, the O’s went from potentially being no-hit to taking the lead.
No lead is safe in the AL East, especially in New York. That of course was the final end game as we know, however the O’s did in fact try to add on. With runners at the corner’s Steve Pearce came through again in the top of the ninth, when his RBI-single score Jonathan Scoop to give the Birds a 3-1 lead. With one down in the inning the Birds had runners at first and second, however Adam Jones and Chris Davis both struck out – and your opponents often get fat on what you leave behind.
Following a lead off single by Brett Gardener in the ninth, Britton quickly retired Derek Jeter
and Jacoby Ellsbury before issuing the aforementioned walk to Mark Texeira. However the Orioles at the time had a two-run lead; odds were still against New York tying the game, right? The law of averages says yes, but laws can often be broken as we know. By walking Texeira Britton had put the tying run on base. Brian McCann‘s RBI-single cut the Orioles’ lead to 3-2. Beltran ran the count to 3-1 with two runners already on base, before launching his walk off homer deep into the Bronx night.
Buck Showalter said after the game that he felt Britton had been good for the Orioles in the closers role, and would be again – possibly today if the Birds find themselves in that position. Closers will blow saves, and hopefully most Oriole fans take that into account before passing too much judgement. After the game the Orioles made a surprise move in announcing that Kevin Gausman had been optioned to triple-A Norfolk. I get the impression that this was done to give him some work in the interim, however there’s a good chance he’ll be recalled late next week. Normally a player has to stay in the minors for ten days unless there’s an injury, however with the Birds playing a day/night doubleheader next Friday vs. Tampa they can bring up a 26th roster player – that could be Gausman.
After a tough loss like that of last night, it’s always good to get right back to the grind, which is the opportunity that the Orioles have today. The series continues with an afternoon matinee at 1 PM at Yankee Stadium. Bud Norris will take to the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Victor Nuno.