Coming out of the all-star break I said that the ten-game west coast trip (followed by six games at home against Anaheim and Seattle) could be the most important moment of the season for the Baltimore Orioles. The AL West is by far the best division in baseball this year, and we see Oakland and Anaheim fighting for first place and Seattle fighting for a wild card spot. So that trip to the west coast had the opportunity to make or break the Birds.
Going into yesterday’s series finale in Seattle the O’s had already guaranteed themselves of a .500 road trip and specifically of at least a series split in Seattle. A loss would have still meant that the Orioles had produced a decent road swing. A win would give them a great trip. Miguel
Gonzalez gave the Orioles a decent start, although he flirted with disaster here and there. Gonzalez’s line: 6 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K. As I’ve said before, all pitchers will get themselves into trouble; it’s the nature of the position. The decent ones will find ways out of trouble when it comes knocking.
Seattle took a 1-0 lead on an RBI-double by Taylor after a couple of bloop base hits off of Seattle bats. However before the run scored Nick Markakis ensured that the inning wouldn’t have ended up being bigger than it was, as Kyle Seager tried to stretch a long single into a double, and was thrown out with pinpoint accuracy by Markakis. I suppose Seager’s thought process was that it would take a perfect throw by Markakis to get him at second base. As has been shown time and time again, Markakis is more than capable of making a perfect throw.
Jonathan Schoop‘s RBI-single an inning later tied the game at one, which is where it stayed for some time. Gonzalez departed after six innings and after turning in a quality start, and in the eighth inning the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs. Manny Machado hit an infield single to short, allowing Adam Jones (who had led off the inning with a double) to score and giving the O’s a 2-1 lead.
The problem of course was that there was still baseball left to play. Mark Zunino, Seattle’s backup catcher, homered with two outs in the last of that eighth inning to tie the score again – this time at two. The Orioles had brought in Darren O’Day to pitch the eighth, and of course he’s normally lights out. He made a mistake in hanging one fastball, and it cost him.
T.J. McFarland pitched the ninth for the Orioles, giving up a walk to Robinson Cano but retiring the side after facing four hitters. As the O’s and Seattle went to extra innings for the second time in three days, Adam Jones led off the tenth inning with another double. Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis both walked to load the bases, and the Orioles had a golden opportunity to take a lead. After a Hardy pop out, Manny Machado came to bat again, and didn’t disappoint. He sent a deep shot to center field which died in the glove of Seattle’s James Jones. However it
was well deep enough for Jones to tag up from third and score, giving the Baltimore Orioles a 3-2 lead.
Zach Britton shut Seattle down in the last of the tenth, and the O’s had themselves yet another victory on the west coast in extra innings. With the win, the Orioles now stand three games above second place Toronto in the AL East, and four ahead of the third place NY Yankees. Toronto opens up a three-game set in Boston tomorrow night, while the Orioles are idle.
As I said above, the O’s will have a well-earned day off at home tomorrow before opening up a three-game set against Anaheim at Camden Yards on Tuesday. While the difficult part (the road games) of that key stretch of games is over, the O’s still have to face Anaheim and those same Seattle Mariners again at the yard this week.
The Orioles will have to make a roster move prior to Tuesday’s game, as reliever T.J. McFarland (who got the win in yesterday’s game) has to leave the team to join his family in Chicago due to the death of his grandmother. (On behalf of our staff at Birds Watcher and of the Fansided Network, I send my deepest of condolences to him and to his entire family.) McFarland will be placed on the Bereavement List on Tuesday, and he’ll have to remain there for three games. So he’ll miss the Anaheim series, but as I said the O’s will be able to call up another reliever from the minors. And luckily for McFarland and for the Orioles, the team is off tomorrow so that gives him an extra day with his family.