The tough thing about extra innings on the road is that if you take the lead your day isn’t quite done. So when David Lough scored on J.J. Hardy‘s RBI-single in the top of the 12th at Fenway yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles still had work to do. However there was little doubt that Zach Britton would close out the game from the Orioles’ perspective; it ended just as it began: with quality pitching from the O’s.
Kevin Gausman got the start in what ended up being another long game at “the Fens,” and he
didn’t disappoint. Gausman’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Those seven strikeouts were a career-high for Gausman. On the flip side, Buck Showalter would prefer that Gausman start going deeper into games. However with seven strikeouts you also have to figure that his pitch count was going to be high. Obviously the Birds didn’t know at the time that they would spend nearly the entire bullpen to win this game, however hindsight is 20/20.
Following a lead off double in the fourth Nelson Cruz came around to score after Delmon Young reached on a throwing error by Boston third baseman Bogaerts. Two innings later in the sixth Caleb Joseph hit a sacrifice fly to give the Birds a 2-0 lead, however in the last of the inning Boston cut that in half with David Ortiz‘s RBI-single.
Nelson Cruz would burn Boston again in the top of the seventh with an RBI-single that extended the Orioles’ lead to 3-1. Cruz, along with Adam Jones would would on J.J. Hardy’s two-RBI single, and on David Ross‘ fielding error Hardy would go to second. After a Manny Machado single the Birds covered the corners, and Ryan Flaherty made Boston pay for that Ross error by singling Hardy home to give the Orioles a 6-1 lead.
For all intents and purposes, the competitive part of the game was over, right? One would have thought. But even good bullpens like that of the Orioles struggle at times. Ross made up for his earlier error by homering off of T.J. McFarland in the last of the seventh. With Ryan Webb in the game, Bogaerts sent an RBI-single to left field, and suddenly the Orioles’ lead was cut in half at 6-3. Later in the inning with two runners in scoring position, Daniel Nava notched an RBI-single, and the Orioles brought on Brian Matusz to face David Ortiz (who Matusz has owned for most of his career). However every dog has it’s day, and Ortiz finally broke through on Matusz with an RBI-single. Mike Napoli would also send an RBI-single of his own into left field, and somehow Boston had come all the way back and tied the game at six.
At that point you had to suddenly like Boston’s chances at winning the game. They say that no lead is safe at Fenway, and yesterday proved that. Dustin Pedroia would get aboard with a one-out single in the 9th, however when he tried to steal second base he was gunned down by Caleb Joseph. Boston manager John Farrell asked for a review, however the call was upheld. In turn, Ryan Flaherty singled to lead off the tenth – and was subsequently picked off of first. Replays seemed to clearly show that Boston first baseman Mike Napoli interfered with Flaherty’s ability to get back to the bag, however Buck Showalter was told it was not a reviewable play.
Many Orioles fans questioned why Farrell was able to challenge after the seventh inning but Showalter was not (on a play that would have CLEARLY been overturned). The fact is that Farrell didn’t challenge the call at second base with Pedroia; he asked the umpires if they’d review it, and they agreed to do so – which is within the rules. If the umpires had said they were standing by the call without a review, Farrell would have had to live with that. In Showalter’s case, fielders interference on a pickoff attempt isn’t reviewable; it may come across as a bit unfair, but both plays were handled appropriately by the umpiring crew. (And I suspect that type of play will be reviewable next year.)
You had to believe that the end was finally near in the top of the 12th when David Lough led off with a triple. A runner at third with nobody out is a pretty good shot of scoring. Hardy’s aforementioned RBI-single gave the O’s a 7-6 lead, breaking the tie. In the last of the 12th David Ortiz appeared to get aboard with a one-out single, however in a “brain cramp” type of moment he was thrown out by a mile trying to extend it to a double. And it wasn’t close folks; the lesson here is don’t press the issue when you don’t have to do so!
The O’s might make a roster move in advance of tonight’s game in Washington, but as of last night that hadn’t been decided. Darren O’Day is the only reliever that didn’t get into yesterday’s game, although not every reliever was used in excess. There’s a good chance that at some point a starter will be optioned, but probably later in the week – with the all-star break coming it won’t be necessary to carry five starters later this week.
The O’s open up a two-game road series with Washington tonight at Nationals Park, with Chris Tillman squaring off against Stephen Strasburg. That’s a pretty decent pitching match up in our nation’s capital tonight if you ask me! For the record, the two games in DC count as one series, and the two games later this week against Washington at Camden Yards count as a different two-game series.
Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, and Matt Wieters (who obviously don’t play) were all voted as starters for the AL all-star team.