You have to feel badly for Wei-Yin Chen in a sense. Chen pitched a decent game in what almost turned into a 4-3 loss to Chicago at Camden Yards. Chen’s line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Chen may have fell short of a quality start, however he pitched much better than did his countarpart Chris Sale – who almost ended up as the winning pitcher in the game.
With all due respect to Sale, the effort he made last night, and the ChiSox, Sale had no business winning this game. He was on the ropes on several occasions, battling a high pitch count, lack of command, and some hot Oriole bats…but the O’s could never land the knock-out punch. To his credit, Sale stuck in there. And to credit of Chicago’s entire team, they came through for him.
The O’s took a 2-0 lead on Adam Jones‘ two-run homer in the first inning. However Chicago would come back in the top of the third and cut that lead in half on Jose Abreau’s fielder’s choice-RBI. The Orioles would load the bases in the last of the fourth when Nick Markakis was hit by a pitch. However Steve Pearce flew out and Adam Jones struck out for the final outs of the inning.
As if that wasn’t enough, the O’s had Sale on the ropes again an inning later. They loaded the bases with nobody out, however Manny Machado grounded into a force out at home plate for the second out of the inning (after Caleb Joseph had earlier sacrificed two runners into scoring position). Jonathan Schoop would ground into a double-play to end the inning, and to bail Sale out one more time.
If you don’t take advantage of opportunities that you’re given, eventually your opponent will. And that’s what happened to the Baltimore Orioles in this game, as Chicago was the team that decided it was time to “come through.” Jose Abreau promptly tied the game at two in the top of the sixth inning with a solo homer. Chicago would take a 3-2 lead on a Gillaspie RBI-double, and they would run the lead to 4-2 on Abreau’s RBi-double.
You got the impression that the Orioles were demoralized to a degree, however much in the tradition of Edgar Allen Poe’s A Telltale Heart, they still had a faint beat going on in their ticker.
Steve Pearce got aboard with a single, and Adam Jones was hit by a pitch. After Nelson Cruz struck out, Buck Showalter pinch hit none other than Chris Davis (who was held out of the lineup due to Sale struggling so mightily against righties). On a full count, Chicago reliever Belisario hung a breaking ball – and with one swing of the bat the Orioles hung a walk off loss on Chicago.
Davis’ walk off home run sent everyone in attendance home happy, and it sent the Orioles off to victory. Having said that, the Orioles were helped big time by their 10th man last night, as the crowd seemed to frustrate Belisario to the point that he made a fatal mistake. For the record, Davis’ homer was the Orioles’ first walk off home run by a pinch hitter since 1988.
The win doesn’t erase the Orioles’ struggles with RISP earlier in the game, however it eases the pain in a sense. The Birds just need to focus on having quality at-bats, and probably not worry so much about being the hero. Heros are made when we least expect them to be – hence Davis’ moment last night.
The Orioles will go for their second consecutive series victory in game two of the series tonight, with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound tonight. He’ll be opposed by Jose Quintana of Chicago – and I’m assuming that Quintana won’t have to worry about facing Chris Davis as a pinch-hitter.