Whenever I see a team lose a lead and thus a game (in walk off fashion) as the Baltimore Orioles did in Oakland Friday night, I”m instantly reminded of the 2007 Mother’s Day Massacre in Boston. Granted, the O’s managed to blow a 5-1 lead that day in the last of the ninth inning which is much different than what we saw Friday, however it was still a dramatic loss that probably shouldn’t have happened. Not that things were going that great prior to that day, however I’ve always felt as if that game really set the tone for the struggles that the Birds ended up having that year.
Every team in baseball is going to lose games in walk off fashion. When it happens that team is challenged to put it out of their minds so that it doesn’t turn into another loss, another after that, and so forth. The best way to avoid something like that snowballing is to win your next game out. Last night, the Baltimore Orioles answered that call as they defeated Oakland 8-4. Wei-Yin Chen only made it through five innings, and while I suspect he still had something left Buck Showalter wasn’t going to run that risk. Chen’s line: 5 IP, H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Chen produced several long fly ball outs which might have been interesting at Camden Yards, but in a park like Oakland’s ended up in outfielders’ mitts.
The Baltimore Orioles weren’t wasting any time in answering the call last night; they started right up from the get go. Nick Markakis led off with a single in the first, which was followed by a Steve Pearce walk. That brought Adam Jones to the plate, and he promptly gave the Birds
a 3-0 lead with a home run to left field. Later with two outs in the inning, J.J. Hardy added a solo shot and after a half inning the O’s led 4-0.
Chris Davis would add an RBI-double in the third, and suddenly the O’s had chased their former teammate Jason Hammel from the game. Hammel of course was traded to Oakland from the Chicago Cubs a few weeks ago. However keep in mind that Oakland is a team that believes it’s never out of a game, similar to the Orioles. So for the entire game the O’s were seemingly on edge in hopes that they could record the third out in the ninth inning before Oakland somehow came back – and with good reason, as Brandon Moss cut the Orioles’ lead to 5-1 with a solo homer in the last of the third.
However again, these Orioles truly answered the call last night. In the wake of Oakland thinking they had gained some momentum back, Adam Jones came up with one out and two runners in scoring position in the fourth. In recording his fourth and fifth RBI of the night, Jones sent a two-RBI single to center field and the O’s were on top 7-1. But what did I say above? – Oakland’s a team who thinks they’re never out of it. Lowrie’s two-RBI double in the last of the inning brought the Oriole lead back to four at 7-3.
As I alluded above, Buck Showalter lifted Chen before he could tire out and get himself in any trouble. The short outings are one frustration that the O’s have with Chen, although while he was in the game he was fairly solid. But the Orioles also got two incredibly solid innings out of Brad Brach, who gave up one run on another Lowrie RBI (single) in the sixth.
One thing we haven’t always seen from these O’s this year is insurance runs, but Chris Davis provided that with a solo home run in the top of the ninth, running the Orioles’ lead to 8-4. Darren O’Day recorded two outs in the last of the ninth, before things got just a bit interesting. He issued a two-out walk to Brandon Moss before giving up a “broken bat dying quail” single to Stephen Vogt. Sound familiar? When you’re a team like Oakland and you’re at home in front of your fans (who seem to pride themselves in staying loud by way of a Brazian soccer-syle samba party every game), if you get a couple of runners on in the ninth inning you start to believe. However Zach Britton came on to record the final out, which he did by striking out Nick Punto.
Again, this is a big win for the Orioles because they managed to get the foul taste of Friday night out of their mouths. When you’re in a pennant race as tough as that in which the Orioles find themselves, you can’t afford to drop several games in a row. The entire division won yesterday also, thus the Birds didn’t want to lose any ground.
Kevin Gausman will start the series finale this afternoon for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Sonny Gray. The Orioles will have to make a roster move at some point after today’s game, probably optioning a reliever to the minors. Bud Norris is scheduled to start tomorrow night in Anaheim, and he’ll need to be recalled in order to do so. Incidentally, the O’s weren’t happy in the least about the three hit batsmen on Friday night; it shouldn’t go unnoticed that two of the players that were hit (Jones and Hardy) each went yard in last night’s game.