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Baltimore Orioles: The Comeback Kids

Chris Tillman didn’t bring his best stuff to the table in last night’s game; but it was far from his worst stuff either. Tillman’s line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R (3 earned), 4 BB, 2 K. He gave up one run in the first inning on an Alex Rios RBI-single, but gave up three in the third on a two-RBI double and an infield RBI-single. The unearned run came as a result of a pitch that was way upstairs; Elvis Andrus appeared to swing and hit the ball foul, but Caleb Joseph was called for catcher’s interference. Replays were inconclusive at best, however I felt like the ball hit the bat as opposed to Jospeh’s glove.

Regardless of whether or not it was a bad call, you can’t allow something such as a disputed play dictate the outcome of that sequence or of the game.

Adam Jones would hit a long home run in the last of the fourth to bring the O’s to within 4-1, however Texas appeared to be in the driver’s seat in this one – for the time being. Tillman would load the bases with two outs in the sixth, which brought Buck Showalter out of the dugout and Brad Brach out from the bullpen. Again this wasn’t a horrible outing by Tillman, but he didn’t have his best stuff and he was also victimized by a few bad bounces. Texas didn’t him him hard by any means, but they placed the ball perfectly in many cases.

Brach was able to induce a Carlos Pena ground out to end the threat in the sixth. That ended up being a big play, because it kept the Orioles in the game. As I said, Texas was very much in the driver’s seat at that time. If you were an Oriole fan at that moment, you were probably thinking well the O’s took the first two games of this series – can’t win ‘em all! Then came the last of the sixth…

…after Joseph struck out to lead off the inning, Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce both drew walks. They both were able to advance into scoring position after a wild pitch (Texas’ first mistake). Jones would sacrifice Markakis home, and Texas’ lead was down to 4-2. Nelson Cruz would stroke an RBI-single to left field, and the lead was down to 4-3. Following a Chris Davis walk, J.J. Hardy would score Cruz from second on his RBI-single, and we suddenly had a tie game.

One inning later, Ryan Flaherty put the Orioles in the lead with a solo homer that landed at the very back of the flag court in right field. To add insult to injury for Texas, Steve Pearce would later draw a two-out walk and then advance to second base on a balk (Texas’ second mistake). He would score on Adam Jones’ RBI-single, and the Orioles closed out a 6-4 comeback victory.

Four runs might not be the biggest comeback of all time, however this team’s ability to remain

steadfast in the face of adversity is fairly impressive. At one point during the game I tweeted something about the game going (from Texas’ perspective) the way that a lot of games went for the Orioles circa 1998 – 2011. Orioles fans saw their team with leads in the 4-0 range on various occasions, only to see the opponent come back on them.

I often say it begins and ends with starting pitching, but in the case of a comeback it has more to do with the bullpen. Texas starter Miles Mikolas was making his big league debut last night – and he was pretty good. (My personal opinion is that he has a bright future based on what I saw last night.) But when you have a  lead and you blow it in the later innings like that it should tell you that your bullpen isn’t very good. That’s true of Texas right now, just as it was true of the Orioles for so many years.

This four-game set with Texas will conclude tonight with Wei-Yin Chen on the mound for the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by Texas’ Yu Darvish, in a match up of former Japanese league pitchers. After the game tonight the Orioles continue what has to be one of the more bizzarre schedules in major league history, as they fly off to Boston for a fourth of July matinee at Fenway Park. The last time the O’s were up there they played a Sunday night game followed by a Patriot’s Day 11 AM matinee – so goes the schedule I suppose.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles Ryan Flaherty

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