Jonathan Schoop scored the tying run for the Baltimore Orioles on a balk, and later plated the winning run in the Birds’ 3-2 win over Anaheim.
Jonathan Schoop and the Baltimore Orioles will take wins however they can get them. Every team in every sprt will – it’s part of the business (of sports). Sometimes you win games or you get breaks in strange ways. If you sit there and wonder how it’s possible you could have caught such a strange break, the moment will pass you by.
Yovani Gallardo gave the Orioles five fairly solid innings, although he probably nibbled on the corners a bit too much. In effect, that drove up his pitch count which probably led to an earlier exit than both he and the coaches would have liked. Gallardo’s line: 5.0 IP, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K.
Obviously with eight strike outs it’s tough to say that Gallardo wasn’t throwing strikes. But there were times when he tried to get a little too “cute” on the outer fringes of the strike zone, and when those pitches weren’t called strikes he’d get down in counts. But all in all, he put the team in a spot to win and that’s really all you can ask.
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The Birds took a 1-0 lead in the last of the second on yet another Mark Trumbo home run. If they handed out MVP awards for the first half of the season, Trumbo would be a prime candidate. Dan Duquette trading a triple-A catcher for Trumbo might be one of the most lopsided trades in some time this past off season.
However Gallardo started to tire in the sixth inning, and he loaded the bases (with nobody out) as his pitch count went up. Nava’s two-RBI single gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead, and chased Gallardo from the game. As I said, while he tired at the end of his outing, Gallardo still left the team in a spot to win. Being down one run is easily something that can be overcome.
However it took something out of the twilight zone for that the begin to happen. With two runners in scoring position (including Jonathan Schoop at third base) and one out in the last of the seventh Anaheim had Smith pitching to Adam Jones. It was one of those at-bats where the crowd started to come to life and you felt there was a chance of something special happening…
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…and in fact, something special did happen. Just not what anyone would have imagined. As he wound up to pitch to Jones, Smith literally just dropped the ball. As in it fell out of his hand. A balk was immediately called, and Schoop was awarded home plate – tying the game. One inning later, it was an RBI-single off the bat of Schoop which ended up giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead which turned into a 3-2 victory.
I’ve seen the ball fall out of a pitcher’s hand before; it’s not unique to this game. However I’m not sure I’ve seen it happen in a spot that big in a game. You have to feel somewhat badly for Smith. Ironically, Buck Showalter had similar thoughts on the matter after the game, and he seemed in favor of not even calling that a balk (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
"In the whole scheme of things, I’m all about fairness. What advantage was he trying to gain? The balk, to me, I wish we’d re-examine it. Because a guy drops the ball or doesn’t step off at the exact time, what advantage is he trying to gain?“I see a balk when you’re trying to keep a guy from stealing second or you’re able to pick him off with a bent knee move or whatever, but if you really break it down … I like to think we’d have figured out a way anyway. That’s not to say something different would have happened, but I’ve always felt that way about balks. If some guy doesn’t come to a complete stop with a man on third and two outs, come on."
Obviously he’s not arguing about getting the run in that spot, but I thought it was an interesting thing to say. At the end of the day, sometimes you need a strange occurance or two like that to go in your favor over the course of the season in order to win games.
The O’s will close the series and the first half of the season this afternoon at Camden Yards. Chris Tillman will be on the mound for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Anaheim’s Tim Lincecum. Game time is set for just after 1:30 PM.