When Manny Machado hit the walk off home run in the last of the twelfth late yesterday evening I was a bit surprised when I realized it was his first career walk off home run. I suppose that makes sense given how young he is.
Chalk up one of those “in between” starts for Chris Tillman. The same could be said for his counterpart Jared Weaver. It wasn’t an awful night for the starters, but certainly not easy either. Tillman’s line: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 R (3 earned), 1 BB, 5 K. Josh Hamilton recorded an RBI-ground out in the first inning, putting the Orioles immediately in the hole. However in what became a theme for the night, the Orioles battled back. Adam Jones sent a solo home run into the left field grandstand in the last of the first, and Nelson Cruz scored on J.J. Hardy‘s RBI-single.
Again, answering the bell was the theme. Anaheim stormed right back in the second inning, as Howie Kendrick scored from third base as David Freese reached safely on Tillman’s throwing error which tied the game. Conger would add a sac fly-RBI, and suddenly Anaheim had the lead. But not for long; Nick Hundley drew a one-out walk in the last of the inning, and he scored on Manny Machado’s RBI-double. So if you’re scoring at home, that’s 3-3 after two innings!
Anaheim would take another slim one-run lead in the fourth on another sac fly-RBI by Conger, but once again the Baltimore Orioles answered the call. Nick Markakis came up in the last of the fourth with two runners on, and he sent a deep shot towards the right field foul pole. As the ball flew my personal opinion was that it would hook just inside the pole. I suppose I was right about the net result, but instead of brushing past the pole the ball flat out hit it. Suddenly the O’s had a two-run lead at 6-4…that is until Josh Hamilton sent a solo shot out an inning later to cut the lead to 6-5.
With two outs in the seventh, Brian Matusz induced Josh Hamilton to ground into what should have been a routine fielder’s choice for J.J. Hardy (with a runner on first base). However Ryan Flaherty, who was playing second base, was slow to cover the bag, forcing Hardy to throw to first instead. Hamilton had hustled down the line and was safe at first base…allowing Albert Pujols to score from third, tying the game. For the most part Flaherty’s defense is pretty solid; but that was a pretty bad mistake.
Needless to say, Flaherty’s rouse ended up sending the game to extra innings (all things being equal) as nobody scored again before the end of nine. Anaheim put two runners in scoring position in the top of the twelfth against Ryan Webb, however Alex Aybar lined out to Steve Pearce at first base to end the threat. As we went to the last of the inning, the thought of a marathon game started to creep into people’s heads given the fact that the bullpens were starting to get fairly empty. That’s when the idea starts to enter the minds of managers in that it might be necessary to burn a starter if need be.
Luckily, that didn’t need to happen in this game. Machado’s walk off home run ended the game,
and propelled the O’s to victory once again. Machado would also say afterwards that the feeling in the clubhouse and around the ballpark was starting to resemble 2012. The players are starting to grasp that the Birds have a very real opportunity to do something magical this year. And if the announced crowd of over 36 thousand people is any indication, so are the fans.
The series will continue tonight at Camden Yards, with Keving Gausman on the mound once again for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by 11-game winner Garrett Richards of Anaheim. One interesting note from around the league; Boston announced yesterday that they were scratching Jon Lester from his scheduled start tonight against Toronto. The implication of course is that Lester is being traded, however nothing has been announce yet other than the fact that he’s being scratched. If something is in the works, where might he be going?