Baltimore Orioles: I Didn’t Hear No Bell!
Sometimes you have to win ugly – just ask fiction boxer Rocky Balboa. And the fact is that you never apologize for wins regardless of how they come. The Baltimore Orioles know this, and know it well. This afternoon’s 13-9 win over Toronto was about as ugly as a game could look at many points. However there were also beautiful moments from the Orioles’ perspective – including late-game heroics by Darren O’Day and J.J. Hardy.
Chris Tillman was good this afternoon – in the first inning. Tillman’s line: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 1 K. However it was downhill from there. HOWEVER, Tillman’s issues didn’t begin until the O’s put up some fireworks in the game. Travis Snider‘s RBI-single in the second gave the Birds a 1-0 lead. That lead was expanded to 2-0 on a Ryan Flaherty RBI-single, and 3-0 on an RBI-single by David
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Call to the Pen
Following another RBI-single (this one by Manny Machado), David Lough broke the game open with a three-run homer. After an inninng and a half, the Birds led 7-0. However things escalate quickly at times. Toronto put two runners on with one out in the last of the seventh, and Ezequiel Cabrera smacked a three-run homer which cut the lead to 7-3. Kevin Pillar‘s subsequent solo shot cut it further to 7-4, and later in the inning Jose Bautista shot a two-RBI single to bring Toronto to within one.
Tommy Hunter would relieve Tillman after only an inning and a half, however Pillar would come to the plate again in the last of the third and he’d tie the game at seven with an RBI-single. The Orioles were on the ropes, so it seemed. They had blown the biggest of the season, against a team with whom they shared bad blood. To top it off their nemisis, Jose Bautista, appeared to have single-handedly beaten them again when he gave his team the lead at 9-7 with a two-run homer in the fourth.
So here the Orioles were staring at droping two-of-three in Toronto square in the face as they headed for Boston for an off day and then a three-game set with Boston. However someone forgot to remind everyone that the game wasn’t over yet. Chris Davis‘ solo homer in the fifth brought the O’s to within 9-8.
Two innings later in the seventh, J.J. Hardy would foreshadow the end of the game with an RBI-single to tie the game at nine. Incidentally, that was set up by a Travis Snider triple, which ironically took a bad hop on the Rogers Centre turf in front of Kevin Pillar.
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After a stellar job by Brian Matusz, Buck Showalter went to his bullpen once again and brought in Darren O’Day – who promptly struck out Josh Donaldson. That brought Bautista to the plate again. While it appeared to be one of those baseball moments where nemesis’ stare each other in the face, Bautista walked on four pitches. Make no mistake about the fact that the Orioles pitched around him. Similar to his single off of O’Day yesterday, all it a small victory in a battle in which you lost the war – Edwin Encarnacion poped out to end the threat.
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Following two consecutive walks to Davis and Nolan Reimold in the ninth, J.J. Hardy came back to the plate with a shot to give his team the led. He followed up his game-tying play earlier with an RBI-single up the middle which seemed to confuse Toronto’s middle infielders. Both thought the other would field the ball, but by the time they figured it out the ball was by them and Chris Davis was crossing home plate to give the Orioles a 10-9 lead.
Hardy and Reimold would score a few moments later on an RBI-triple by Ryan Flaherty, who would score himself on Machado’s RBI-single. However this game was won by the Orioles on two things. First off, Darren O’Day in the eighth. One might argue that the Orioles were afraid to let Bautista beat them, however that sly pitch-around was a key moment.
Secondly, Hardy is one of the most professional hitters that you’re going to find. He finds ways to get on base, and/or to get balls into the outfield. And he did it when the team needed it most this afternoon, giving the Orioles the game and the series.
The only concern now of course is Chris Tillman, who was lifted after 1.1 innings. Buck Showalter said after the game that Tillman just needs to get back to attacking, as well as to straighten out his changeups and sliders. He also indicated that Tillman might get an extra day of rest with tomorrow being an off day in his next turn in the rotation.
However Tillman aside, chalk this up as just “one of those games.” The ball was flying this afternoon in Toronto, and sometimes that’s just how the game ebbs and flows. However make no mistake about the fact that this was about as big of a win for the Birds as one can imagine. It also gave them a series win, and they moved into third place in the AL East – only three games back.
And the fact is that this is a resilent team, as all Orioles fans know. They very easily could have packed it in after blowing the lead like they did. But what was it that Mickey (the boxing coach) said to Rocky when he’d get knocked down in fights? Hey Rocco…I DIDN’T HEAR NO BELL!
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Inside the bad blood