Courtesy of Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles "Cruz" on 10th inning Chris Davis homer

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Admit it folks, when last night’s game went into the 10th inning you had flashbacks to the 18-inning game in Seattle two years ago. I for one most certainly did! I’m not sure that the Baltimore Orioles can go to extra innings again at anytime in Seattle without memories of that game coming back. We’ve heard so much about how Seattle’s bullpen is so clutch; but yet it’s been the Orioles’ pen which has owned the day the past two games. The team with the stronger bullpen on any given day is generally the one that will win in extras.

But before the Birds got to the bullpen, Kevin Gausman and Seattle starter Felix Hernandez

Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

provided us with one of the better pitching duels of the 2014 season thus far.

For Gausman, it might well have been the best start of his career – certainly of the season thus far.
Gausman’s line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Gausman was clutch when he needed to be in terms of getting balls over for strike three. He also seemed to specialize in strike one, which sets the tone for the at-bat from the start.

Unfortunately for the Orioles, Gausman was predictably matched almost pitch-for-pitch by Felix Hernandez, who of course is one of the best pitchers in baseball. However that’s not to say that he had no-hit stuff. The Orioles knew who they were dealing with from the beginning when Adam Jones got aboard with a single in the first inning and tried to steal – unsuccessfully at that. The idea of course being get as many runs on this guy as we can.

And the Orioles did get on the board early against Hernandez. Nelson Cruz hit the first pitch of the second inning into the left field grandstand, and the Orioles took a 1-0 lead. However as the innings moved on the Birds had several opportunities to push further runs across, and they couldn’t take advantage of them. In fairness, so did Seattle. In the last of the fifth James Jones appeared to tie the game with an RBI-single, however Steve Pearce threw out former Oriole Endy Chavez by a mile at home plate to preserve the lead.

And it’s a good thing that he did, because eventually Seattle did manage to tie the game. Robinson Cano led off the sixth inning with a triple, and he scored on Kendrys Morales‘ sac fly-RBI to tie things up at one. However Gausman buckled down and got himself out of the inning, before being lifted in favor of the bullpen after two outs in the seventh.

And as I said, the Orioles’ pen was solid. Brian Matusz allowed a two-out double in the eighth, however he managed to strike out Ackley on a high fastball to end the threat. Darren O’Day came on with one out in the last of the ninth and struck out the final two batters to end the inning as well, and thus setting himself up to be the beneficiary of circumstance in this game.

As the game went to extra innings it did in fact seem to have the mark of a long marathon in the works. However we have to remember that Buck Showalter‘s attitude is that we take one game at a time – but burning out that strong Oriole bullpen had to be a concern. Furthermore with an afternoon game today, if the O’s wanted to make a roster move to call up another reliever there was little chance that the new guy could get to Seattle in time for today’s game. So

Chris Davis led off the 10th inning for the Orioles…

…and on a 1-2 count he sent a no-doubted into the right field stands and suddenly the Orioles led 2-1. That’s exactly the lift you look for early in an extra-inning game, and the O’s got it last night. Davis might not be having the season he had in 2013, however he earned his keep last night because he carried the team when they needed it. Zach Britton pitched a clean ninth, and the Orioles had a 2-1 victory in Seattle, assuring themselves of nothing less than a split in Seattle and a split on this tough west coast swing.

While Seattle has an overall good pitching staff, Hernandez is the anchor and the staff ace. And with how he shut down the O’s yesterday, it’s with good reason. However the Orioles weathered the storm, and managed to come through with a win. Bud Norris will get the ball in this afternoon’s game for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Seattle’s Chris Young. For the record, the O’s are done with those 10 PM east coast start times for this season – today and tomorrow’s games are at 4 PM.

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