After trailing 7-1 entering the 7th inning, Jonathan Schoop’s three-run homer in the ninth propelled the Baltimore Orioles to an 8-7 win in San Francisco.
It’s easy for anyone to say you always play until the end when the score is 7-1 going into the 7th inning – but the Baltimore Orioles, or Fighting Showalters that is, lived that yesterday. For much of the game there wasn’t much that broke the Orioles’ way, be it moves made from the dugout or bounces on the field. But for one fleeting moment, everything broke for the O’s the way that it needed to in order for them to win. And luckily for them, that moment happened at the end of the game.
Wade Miley was a victim of what I described above; nothing breaking his way, that is. Miley’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R (6 earned), 2 BB, 1 K. If it wasn’t a Brown RBI-single for the first run (on the heels of a Mark Trumbo error), it was Pence hitting only his eighth homer of the season. Heck, even the starting pitcher Cueto got into the act, with an RBI-single in the last of the fourth to give San Francisco a 3-0 lead. The Orioles’ lone run in the first part of the game was an RBI-single by Adam Jones.
This is not to say that Miley was crisp yesterday. He had some poor luck for sure, but he was also in the middle of the plate for his entire outing. But that’s not the main story of yesterday’s game. The main story begins when most folks figured that the game was over. And it really typifies the whole concept of “the Fighting Showalters,” which began in 2011.
It began innocently enough – Jones netted the Birds’ second run with a sac fly-RBI in the seventh. That cut the San Francisco lead to 7-2. However Kim added an RBI-double, and one inning later Trumbo smacked his 34th homer of the season to cut the lead to 7-4. If you’re San Francisco, alarm bells have to be starting to go off in your head at this point. But nobody was going to come back from six down after the seventh inning…were they?
Again, that’s why these Fighting Showalters play every game until it’s final out. Later in that eighth inning Hardy’s RBI-single cut the lead to 7-5. The O’s then had a runner at second base with two outs in the the ninth, with Trumbo coming to the plate again. However San Francisco wanted no part of Trumbo potentially tying the game at that late hour. So they pitched around him…
…to get to Jonathan Schoop. From San Francisco’s perspective it was probably very simple; Schoop records the final out, and that’s the end of it. The hometown fans go home happy, and the O’s go home with questions about where their season is going. That’s how they may have drawn it up – but sometimes the best-laid plans can be foiled.
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Schoop jumped on a fastball on an 0-1 count. The left fielder never stood a chance, and San Francisco’s gamble in walking Trumbo backfired. Schoop’s three-run homer gave the O’s an improbably 8-7 win, which turned into an 8-7 victory. The Birds thus took two-of-three in San Francisco.
Make no mistake about the fact that this game is probably the biggest win of the season for the Orioles to this point. And that’s no doubt due to the fact that it unfolded in the manner that it did. Coming back to win after being that far down that late in the game is always a special feat. And again make no mistake that it’s also a feat that might make you point back to this game as a turning point when all’s said and done.
I’m the first one to say that one game a season does not make. But that’s not to say that you can’t look back on specific games or moments as occurances that mattered. This could be one of those moments for this Baltimore Orioles team. Where they go from here remains to be seen, but this is about as uplifting a victory as you’re going to see.
On a personal note, I feel that it’s part of my job as a writer not to be overly emotional about these games. That’s a stance best left to fans, who don’t have to be as objective as I do. But the way that things unfolded in this game at the end took my breath away. It’s an example of one of the things that makes baseball great as a sport. And it drives home the whole point of the Fighting Showalters moniker: ALWAYS PLAY EVERY GAME UNTIL THE FINAL OUT.