Baltimore Orioles: Walk off by Jonathan Schoop sinks DC
Last night’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington was the first back at Camden Yards for second baseman Jonathan Schoop since he came off the DL. And for nearly the entire game, Schoop and the Orioles had to watch as they were all but relegated to playing National League ball – against a National League team in their (the Orioles’) ballpark. When I say they had to play National League ball, I mean that the games in the NL are much lower scoring in theory. This as opposed to the at times home run-happy American League.
But as we know, things can change on the drop of a dime in baseball. Nevertheless, Chris Tillman pitched a very solid four innings before struggling in the fifth and sixth. However he put the Orioles in a position to win the game, which is all you can ask of your starter. Tillman’s line: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Tillman hasn’t lost a game since May 31st, although he didn’t figure into the decision last night. Tillman had his off speed and breaking pitches working well early, and speaking for myself I thought the two-strike curve to Bryce Harper in the first inning (which he swung through for strike three) was his best pitch of the night.
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Games like these are somewhat frustrating for teams like the Orioles, as they win games by hitting home runs. But when the opposing team isn’t yielding homers, it proves to be a challenge. And we saw the Orioles struggle again last night with runners on base. With Jones at the plate in the last of the third and Manny Machado on first, Machado was thrown out stealing to end the inning. That was unfortunate from the Orioles’ standpoint, however it also meant that Jones would lead off the following inning for the Birds. And on the first pitch he saw Jones opened up his bat and smacked the thing out of the ballpark.
However unfortunately for the Orioles, that 1-0 was never going to stand up for the entire night. And in fact it was very short-lived. In the fifth after two singles and a double-play, Washington had two outs and a runner at third. Tillman at that point started to struggle a bit with his command, and Tyler Moore smacked an RBI-double to tie the game. Michael A. Taylor would follow that up with an immediate RBI-single, and suddenly the Orioles were slowly bleeding to death as they trailed 2-1.
Tillman got out of the inning unscathed from that point on, however it did dawn on me that the Orioles were losing in effect to an NL team who had taken over the game by playing the NL style of play – in an AL park. And as the game went on at a certain point Washington started counting outs. The O’s could muster nary a base runner at certain points, which as the game went to the later innings made the bats start pressing a bit. But as can often be the case, it all started simply enough…
…Chris Parmelee pinch hit for Steve Pearce in the last of the eighth, and he reached on a swinging bunt down the third base line. Later in the inning with one down, Matt Wieters came to the plate – and Wieters gave the Orioles the surge of power for which they had looked all night. His RBI-double scored Parmelee from first and tied up the game. After the Birds sent Washington down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth behind closer Zach Britton, we got to the real meat of the ballgame.
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Washington reliever Taylor Roark struck out both Jimmy Paredes and J.J. Hardy to open the inning. With Jonathan Schoop looking at a 2-2 count, needless to say odds were that the game would head to extra
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
innings. However sometimes players have surges of energy at key moments which allow them in effect to rise to the occasion just when they’re needed most…
…and this was one of those moments for Jonathan Schoop. He hammered that 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field, lifting the Orioles to an improbable 3-2 victory over Washington in the first leg of the Battle of the Beltways. For Schoop, it was his first career walk off homer, which was certainly worthy of a pie in the fact, courtesy of Adam Jones.
Make no mistake about the fact that this team needed this win. Not only that, but they needed it to happen just as it did. Whereas they seemingly had so much negative momentum after the Texas, Chicago, and Minnesota series’, this at the very least should help to turn things around. Schoop seemed to eat up the moment after the game, and he seemed to know what it meant for the team and for the fans (quote courtesy of David Ginsburg, Associated Press):
"It’s exciting, really exciting. I’m glad I’m here, with my teammates and my fans. I’m really happy to be here, and especially to help the team to win."
The Orioles will hope to carry that momentum into game two of the series this evening at Camden Yards, where they’ll have Miguel Gonzalez on the mound. He’ll be opposed by Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman. Game time is set for 7:15 PM tonight.
Next: Baltimore Orioles open the Battle of the Beltways vs. DC