The Baltimore Orioles had just about everything thrown at them that was possible yesterday in the Bronx. Darren O’Day was called for a phantom balk, the umpiring was sketchy at best all day, and there was a situation with the lights. Did I mention that they had to tap dance around the New York Yankees all day?
Starter Wade Miley seemed to flirt with disaster all afternoon. Yet he put the Orioles in a position to win the game, and he was in line to collect the win when he left the game. Miley’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 6 K. Miley gave up a solo homer to Holliday in the last of the first, however he seemed to collect himself after that. He pitched out of several bad jams, including having the bases loaded with nobody out.
The O’s tied the game at one on an RBI-single by Adam Jones, however NY took the lead back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI-single by Headley. Due to a high pitch count, it appeared that Miley was done after five innings in the game. But as I said, he left with the lead…
…Mancini grounded into a force out with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. This score a run which tied the game, and the Orioles took the lead a moment later on an RBI-double by Jonathan Schoop. They would extend that lead to 4-2 after Gentry’s RBI-groundout.
That felt like a turning point in the game, and one that would decide it at that. The bullpen shut NY down through the remaining innings, and with two men on in the last of the ninth they found themselves down to their final out with O’Day on the mound. At one point he moved to throw back to second in a pickoff attempt, but the ball went into center field. The runners were unable to move up since Adam Jones was on the ball immediately, but…
…home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater fingered O’Day for a balk. This allowed both runners to move into scoring position. It also brought an irate Buck Showalter out of the dugout to argue the call, which resulted in the skipper’s first ejection of the year. Here’s the irony in all of this; the call was supposedly changed to an E6 on Hardy for obstruction, which made no sense whatsoever. (Since when is a fielder not allowed to make a play on the ball at the bag on a pickoff attempt?) Yet in the box score, it’s officially listed as a balk.
O’Day never made a move towards home plate, and according to him and Buck Showalter he used the same pickoff move he’s used for his entire career. And Showalter’s comments after the game reflected that (quote courtesy of Brittany Ghiroli, mlb.com):
There wasn’t a lot of give and take. Same thing he’s been doing for eight or nine years. One out of four saw something that wasn’t there. I think we call it over-officiating in basketball. He had a pretty good game going until that.
A few other players indicated that they felt the rookie umpire had no issue calling a balk which appeared not to be there, but he couldn’t find a way to call NY for a third strike throughout the game. The strike zone was tough to find at best. However that incident balked the tying run into scoring position, and NY took advantage with Gregorious’ two-RBI single.
The late afternoon turned overcast as the game went to extras, yet the lights at Yankee Stadium didn’t go on – until New York came to bat in the last of the tenth. The Orioles threatened to protest, citing a rule which says that the lights can’t go on or off in the middle of an inning, and the lights were shut off. Gamemanship, perhaps?
The Birds almost lost it in the last of the tenth when pitcher Logan Verrett decided to try to nab a runner at second on a sac bunt attempt. Both runners were safe, compounding things further with nobody out. But Verrett redeemed himself eventually with the bases loaded. He induced Castro to ground into a force out at home plate with one out, and then struck out Judge to end the inning. No small feat.
The O’s got back in the driver’s seat in the eleventh with an RBI-single by Trumbo, and a two-RBI single by Castillo. That gave them a sizable lead of three runs, and Verrett sent NY down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to secure the victory. This was about as hard-fought and strange of a game as you’re going to see, but in the end it was the O’s who prevailed.