Baltimore Orioles: A new star is Bourn in the outfield
It took a relay throw from Michael Bourn in the outfielder to nail a runner at the plate for the Baltimore Orioles to finally put Tampa out of their misery.
The Baltimore Orioles just acquired outfielder Michael Bourn a few weeks ago, but if he does nothing else in an Oriole uniform he’ll have already made a huge impact. The Birds had slowly crawled back into a game in which they had trailed from the beginning last night against a team in Tampa that they needed to and should have beaten. However Tampa, the masters of anything you can do I can do better, just wouldn’t go away. Alexi Ramirez’s ninth-inning single with two outs appeared to be their normal shennanigans in that it appeared to be a game-tying play.
Ubaldo Jimenez struggled early, but righted himself last night. However at the time, it appeared the damage might have already been done. Jimenez’s line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Jimenez might have been getting too much of the plate if anything – evidenced by two-run homers by Longoria and Shaffer in the first and second innings respectively.
However the O’s began to get back in the game in the last of the second when Pedro Alvarez smacked a solo home run. Chris Davis followed suit two innings later, hitting his solo shot to the opposite field. Hyun-Soo Kim’s RBI-single in the seventh brought the O’s to within one, and Hardy’s subsequent RBI-single an inning later tied the game at four.
However it was Bourn who gave the O’s the lead, and who would eventually preserve that lead. His eighth inning sac fly-RBI scored the go-ahead run, and the Orioles led 5-4. However there was still some late drama in this game, and at the end of the day both Bourn and the entire Orioles team were up to the task.
With two outs in the ninth inning, closer Zach Britton had Alexei Ramirez with a full count – down to his final strike. As if Tampa hasn’t caused the Orioles enough problems by running down all of their would-be extra-base hits and so forth, Ramirez sent a tight grounded past third. With a runner at second base, it appeared that the game was going to be tied and that Britton was going to blow his first save of the season…
…it appeared that way, at least. With almost cat-like reflexes, Bourn hustled over to the ball and dug it out of the corner. Mike Mahtook (the runner at second) didn’t get the best read on the ball and held up a bit – giving Bourn time to get to it. Bourn made a near-perfect throw to Manny Machado at third, who relayed it home to catcher Matt Wieters…
…and BOOM! Mahtook was out at home plate. That’s how the game ended, and the Orioles kept pace in the chase for October. The key to that play is Bourn getting to the ball as expediantly as he did, and then making such a great throw. And it really illustrates why Buck Showalter is so big on defense. That’s not a part of the game that he’s willing to sacrifice.
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That might be as big of an individual play as the Orioles have made this season. You never want to say that the Birds are in a spot where they need to win the rest of their games, because that’s neither true nor possible. However many of these other teams refuse to lose, putting pressure on the Birds. With the line between success and failure this year being so fine, it’s plays like that which you need in your favor to keep the season going.
And as I said above, it was almost Zach Britton’s first blown save of the season. Brad Brach actually got the win (as the pitcher of record when Bourn gave the Birds the lead), however Britton came in during the ninth inning. As good as Britton’s been, he probably deserved to have his streak saved by someone else in that spot. And Bourn was most definitely up to the challenge.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Late comeback attempt fails as Birds fall to Tampa
The series continues this evening at Oriole Park. Chris Tillman takes to the mound for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Tampa’s Matt Andriese. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.