Baltimore Orioles saved by Darren O’Day and Caleb Joseph

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The Baltimore Orioles have some clutch players, however it seems that whenever they visit Rogers Center it’s always the home team that’s getting the clutch performances. So you can imagine the looks on the faces of the Toronto players when they realized yesterday that they were bested by the likes of Caleb Joseph and Darren O’DayJose Bautista‘s nemesis. And especially when they realized that there would be no walk off heroics off of their bats on that day.

Kevin Gausman had a few early struggles in his first start of 2015 (and his first appearance since coming off the DL), however once he settled in he was very good. Gausman’s line: 5 IP4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. It was obvious that the Orioles were being cautious with Gausman, hence the reason he only pitched five innings. However one big advantage that Gausman had was that he came to the mound in the last of the first inning with a 1-0 lead due to Adam Jones‘ fielder’s choice-RBI. 

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  • However Gausman did struggle just a bit, and just enough to allow Toronto to tie the score. With a runner at third, Edwin Encarnacion‘s sac fly-RBI knotted the score at one.  Gausman also gave up an RBI-single to Kevin Pillar in the last of the second, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead. Incidentally, Pillar was in scoring position due to a wild pitch by Gausman which bounded away on the Rogers Centre turf after hitting Caleb Joseph’s pads – perhaps symptomatic of the “field conditions?”

    Gausman was able to settle down after that, which put the ball in the court of the bats. However as can normally be the case when the Orioles visit Rogers Centre, the Toronto starter (Mark Buerhle) was also dealing. But the Orioles were able to tie the score in the sixth on Delmon Young‘s sac fly-RBI which scored Manny Machado. Toronto manager John Gibbons asked for a replay review due to the fact that the play at the plate was close, but the call was upheld. In theory that should have been Gibbons’ only challenge of the game.

    Buck Showalter made a curious move in the eighth with Jose Bautista leading off the inning – he inserted Darren O’Day. Bautista and O’Day are the root cause of the bad blood between the two sides, and Showalter showed a lot of confidence in his sidearmed reliever at that moment. As opposed to his normal majestic homer, Bautista ended up with a single up the middle. You can look at that as a win for O’Day, however after another single and a walk the bases were loaded… 

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    …O’Day and the Birds appeared to be on the ropes. One could almost see Bautista snickering at third base, thinking he had beaten this relief pitcher that he hates so much once again. However John Gibbons intervened again in a moment that changed the game. Russell Martin hit a long foul ball, which Gibbons seemed to think hit the foul pole. Yet Gibbons, who mind you had already used and lost his one challenge, was able to convince the umpires to review the play “using their discretion.”

    I’ve said this before many times, but this needs to stop. Managers are shamelessly getting extra challenges by asking the umpires to make an independed decision at their discretion to review a play. If a play is going to be reviewed, it either needs to be challenged or the umpires truly have to decide on their own to look at it.

    Courtesy of Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

    However in some psychological manner, the delay seemed to help O’Day. The foul ball call was eventually upheld, and O’Day struck out Martin. He then proceeded to strike out Dioneer Navarro and Kevin Pillar – sending Toronto down 1-2-3 after the review. And leaving Bautista at third looking on and wondering how O’Day could have gotten out of that jam.

    And that act seemed to wake up the Oriole bats a bit as well. With two runners on in the ninth, Caleb Joseph came up big with an RBI-single to give the Orioles the lead at 3-2. After a pitching change Manny Machado’s two-RBI double down the line to left field ran the lead to 5-2. And it’s a good thing Machado netted two additional runs – because Toronto got a couple of runners on in the last of the ninth, and Bautista’s RBI-single brought Toronto to within 5-3.

    However a ground ball double-play ended the game, and the Birds emerged victorious. In looking at O’Day and Joseph’s feats on this day, they really showed nerves of steel. While O’Day got himself into trouble by loading the bases, he also showed accountability for that by ending the threat. Whether or not the pause due to the review that never should have occurred had anything to do with it is unknown. But the Orioles got one heck of an effort in the clutch yesterday.

    The series concludes this afternoon with Chris Tillman on the mound for the O’s. He’ll be opposed by Toronto’s Scott Copeland. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles: Inside the bad blood

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