When fans look back on this game they might do so thinking that the Baltimore Orioles probably had no business winning. In fact, they easily could have been swept in the series had one or two things in this game (and Monday’s game) bounced the other way. Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was good – not great, but good. Jimenez’s line: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K. There were times when Jimenez found trouble, but yet other times when he was right on the ball. His walks were obviously down, but he allowed a lot of base runners with the eight hits. It may be a tough start to really gauge, but he did in fact give the O’s an opportunity to win.
Jose Abreu put Jimenez and the Birds in a 1-0 hole when he led off the fourth inning with a solo home run. An inning later De Aza’s RBI-triple would give the ChiSox a 2-0 lead, on a ball that just hung, and hung – and hung a bit more in the air. However De Aza also helped Jimenez out a few moments later when Gordon Beckham shot a ground ball to third baseman Manny Machado. I was a bit taken back when De Aza broke for home on contact, however Machado threw to catcher Nick Hundley who applied the tag to get the Birds a key out at home plate. Flowers would send a two-RBI single to left field in the seventh and the Birds were in a 4-0 hole.
This was another case of the Orioles not having patience at the plate. In fairness, many scouting reports on the ChiSox indicated that their pitchers threw strikes – often catching perhaps too much of the plate. But the scouting reports on the Orioles state that they’re a free-swinging bunch. So Chicago pitchers were throwing pitches out of the strike zone – and that worked out well for them for the most part. Until of course it didn’t.
The Birds didn’t have a base runner at second base or beyond until the last of the eighth inning, when Nick Markakis and Nick Hundley led the inning off with back-to-back singles. Chris Davis drew a two-out walk and the bases were loaded. On a side note, the Orioles for so many years were victims of wild moments in games whereby they might have a decent lead (such as 4-0) late in the game only to have to bear witness to big moments in games by their opponents. So now perhaps the shoe’s on the other foot…
…there did appear to be a certain energy in Oriole Park at Camden Yards as Nelson Cruz strode to the plate with the bases loaded. As thunder and lightning struck off in the distance indicating an arriving storm, the Camden Yards faithful seemed to sense that something magic was about to happen. And Nelson Cruz rose to the occasion, sending a grand slam off of the grounds crew shed in right field which tied the game.
Short of a walk off home run (which we also saw from the Orioles in this series), you’re not going to have a more exciting moment than something like that in a game. As the last out was recorded in the ninth and the game went to extra innings, the umpires called for the tarp as the storm was about to hit. If Cruz’s slam didn’t wash away the Orioles’ offensive ineffectiveness, it was certainly possible that the rain would.
With neither team challenging too much in the first few extra innings, Nick Hundley drew a lead off walk in the last of the twelfth. Buck Showalter immediately inserted David Lough as a pinch runner for his speed, and Lough was able to go first-to-third on Nick Marakkis’ subsequent single. As often happens in extra innings, one team waits for the other to make a mistake. And that mistake came in the form of Chicago reliever Daniel Webb‘s wild pitch, which allowed Lough to come in from third to score the winning run.
The Orioles emptied their bullpen in this game, but if you’re ever going to have to do that you’d like it to be in a game going into an off day. Again, the stats and the ebb and flow of the game (until the eighth inning that is) indicate that the O’s should have lost last night. However perhaps one of the marks of good teams is that they find ways to win when they aren’t at their
The Orioles will send pitcher Bud Norris in for an MRI this morning on his groin, which he appeared to injure on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.