Following Adam Jones‘ pop out, Chris Davis strode to the plate for the Baltimore Orioles in the top of the tenth inning this afternoon in Oakland. Following a lackluster start by Wei-Yin Chen and a comeback to tie the game, the O’s had the bases loaded with one out. Davis had a 3-2 count on him, as all of Baltimore hinged on what was going to happen next…
The O’s unfortunately took some time to get to that specific moment given the fact that they had to claw their way back into the game to begin with. Wei-Yin Chen did have a couple of solid innings, however overall it wasn’t his best effort. Chen’s line: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 4 K. However to his credit, Chen was good at minimizing the damage, which he did a few times when Oakland loaded the bases. This kept the Orioles in the game, and put them in a spot to win.
The Birds did take a 1-0 lead in the third in the wake of a lead off double by Jonathan Schoop, followed by Nolan Reimold‘s RBI-single. However Oakland tied it on Brett Lawrie‘s sac fly-RBI in the last of the inning, and we were knotted at one. However an inning later Chen appeared poised to give up a big inning. However it ended up with Marcus Semien simply sending a two-RBI double to left, which gave Oakland a 3-1 lead over the Birds. The Orioles always seem to struggle in Oakland, even in games that they win. And the fact that they were staring a loss to a statistically poor team (and a series loss) in the fact wasn’t sitting well in those middle innings.
So the O’s stepped up and said ENOUGH! They immediately put runners at the corners in the sixth, and Jimmy Paredes‘ RBI-single cut the lead to 3-2. That brought J.J. Hardy to the plate, and he tapped an RBI-single of his own that tied the score at three – letting Chen off the hook.
There were two curious managerial moves in this game at the end from my standpoint. The first was Buck Showalter bringing Zach Britton into the game in the eighth inning of a tie game on the road. If the O’s were at home I might have understood it, but I thought that was a slight risk on Showalter’s part. (But who am I to second guess the reigning AL Manager of the Year?!) The second came in the top of the tenth after the O’s put runners at the corners with nobody out. Oakland manager Bob Melvin opted to walk Gerardo Parra to load the bases.
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Granted the go-ahead run was already at third, however Melvin wanted a force out at every base. But with Jones and Davis behind him, I would have thought it would have been wise to pitch to Parra. However at first Melvin’s calculation seemed to work, Oakland got Jones to pop out harmlessly to second base. That brought Davis to the plate, and he worked the count to 3-2.
…and naturally Davis sent a high drive to right center. Back it went into the Oakland afternoon sun, and when it cleared the outfield fence Chris Davis had himself a grand slam to give his team a 7-3 lead in the
Courrtesy of Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
tenth. Granted the home team hits last, however that’s tough from which to recover. And Zach Britton made sure that Oakland didn’t.
So the story here besides the obvious is that Showalter’s gamble with Britton paid off – but Melvin’s gamble in loading the bases did not. That’s how the ball bounces sometimes. However make no mistake about the fact that this was a huge win for the O’s. It gave them a series win in Oakland, a place that’s haunted them for some time. It also keeps them in line in the standings to make a push for the playoffs. Every win at this point means something – and the Birds thus have to take advantage whenever they are able. The O’s will fly to Anaheim this evening, where they’ll have an off day tomorrow before opening up a three-game set on Friday night.