Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis sets up win in the twilight zone

Chris Davis’ at-bat in the 14th inning of yesterday’s game set up the Baltimore Orioles’ 6-4 win at Dodger Stadium.

Chris Davis‘ at-bat in the 14th inning of yesterday’s Baltimore Orioles’ game goes down in the stat sheet as a base hit. However anyone who saw the game should know that it was more than that. Often times intangibles will toe the fine line for you between winning and losing. And that’s what Davis’ at-bat yesterday represents.

But I’ll get to that in a moment. Kevin Gausman got the start yesterday, in what seems like ages ago now. Gausman’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Gausman wasn’t as sharp as he’s been at times, but he looked better than he did last weekend in Seattle. But at the end of the day, Gausman didn’t figure into the decision.

The Birds trailed early in what was supposed to be a “getaway day matinee.” Turner’s two-run homer in the first gave Los Angeles a 2-0 lead. Incidentally, this game was in fact a “getaway day matinee.” It just turned into more of an early evening affair by the end. 

The O’s got a run back in the second on Ryan Flaherty‘s RBI-double. Flaherty hasn’t cracked the lineup for awhile, but he certainly made the most of his opportunity yesterday – going two-for-six. One inning later Manny Machado (who was celebrating his 24th birthday yesterday) grounded into a double-play which allowed a run to score and tie the game. Mark Trumbo would hit to solo homers, and in between those LA’s Gonzalez would plate two runs with a two-RBI double.

So at the end of the day, the teams were knotted at four runs a piece. From the Orioles’ standpoint there’s nothing like finishing out a long road trip (to the opposite coast, mind you) with an extra inning game! And keep in mind that this game had a first pitch of noon (local time). That was scheduled as a professional courtesy of sorts to the Orioles given that they were going cross-country to get home after the game. Needless to say they started heading towards home much earlier than they would have had the game started at 7 PM local time, but you get the point.

When games go into “teen innings” I like to say that they officially enter the twilight zone. Things just get so bizzare at that point, and at the end of the day it turns into which team runs out of players or tires out first. Nobody can really blame you for losing a game that goes as long as that, because at a certain point you run out of players. 

The O’s had a shot to take the lead in the 13th when Jones sent a single to right field with Rickard on first base. Rickard was sent home on the play, and was thrown out at home plate. Now for the record had I been coaching third base I probably would have held him up. But keep in mind that I’m not the biggest risk-taker out there. Luckily for the O’s, victory was only one inning away at that point.

With Machado already on first and one gone, Davis found himself in an 0-2 hole. However Davis battled back in the count, eventually working it full. After fouling a couple of pitches off, Davis blooped a single to center field. Again, keep in mind that goes down just as a base hit in the box score. However that also put the go-ahead run in scoring position (in the form of Machado). Furthermore Davis had to work his way back into the count after being down 0-2. He knew the importance of the at-bat at that stage of the game, and he was going to get on base one way or the other.

Those are intangibles that can’t be measured in games. It’s moments like that which win games like these. Similarly, Dylan Bundy loaded the bases with nobody out in the last of the seventh – and then struck out the final two hitters to end the inning. When the line between winning and losing is so fine, it’s moments like that which help turn things in your direction. Especially when the game ends up in the twilight zone.

For the record, Jonathan Schoop‘s two-RBI double following Davis’ at-bat gave the Orioles a 6-4 lead, and an eventual win. The O’s ended up going 4-5 on what shaped u to be one of the toughest road trips of the year (based soley on the distance from home). At the end of the day, a very long day at that, they flew home happy.  

The O’s now have a well-deserved day off today, which I suspect most players will spend recouperating from the trip. They’ll open a three-game series against Anaheim at home tomorrow night, which will be the final series before the all-star break. So with that said, that’s all for tonight…on the twilight zone.