Baltimore Orioles cutting it close with 11th hour heroics

The Baltimore Orioles certainly waited until the 11th hour last night to make their move. We had seen this movie before; the Birds give up a couple of ticky-tack runs, and the opponent even tacks on an insurance run late to ensure their victory. The O’s even attempted a comeback earlier in the game but were unable to come all the way back – until late.

Kevin Gausman wasn’t perfect, but he put the O’s in a position to win the game. Gausman’s line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Gausman was getting ahead of batters in the count, however often when he had them right where he wanted them he was letting them off the hook in a sense.

The O’s took an early 1-0 lead when Smith led the first inning off with a solo homer. However Pittsburgh established quickly thereafter that they were going to be a force to deal with. McCutchen’s RBI-single in the second tied the score, and Jaso’s RBI-double later in the inning gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. That was extended to 3-1 on Mercer’s RBI-groundout.

Pittsburgh’s repetoire on the night even included a solo homer, off the bat of Freese in the sixth. They were pitching well and keeping the Orioles at bay, and they led 4-1 going into the later innings. But the Birds were only getting warmed up.

The O’s cut the lead to 4-3 and re-energized Camden Yars in the last of the seventh on back-to-back home runs by Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop. They still trailed by one, however they had suddenly swung momentum. But Pittsburgh didn’t go quietly. In the top of the ninth they got an RBI-triple from Harrison, which gave them an insurance run to extend their lead to 5-3. That probably should have been the back-breaker from the Orioles’ standpoint.

But as we all know, the home team hits last. Schoop’s turn came up in the order in the last of the ninth, with a runner on base. And Schoop saved the day with a two-run homer that tied the game back up at five. Again, talk about your 11th hour heroics – you really can’t cut it closer than that!

Jones got aboard in the last of the tenth, and Machado almost ended the game a moment later with a deep shot to left. Had it fallen, Jones would have scored. And obviously had it gone out the game would have been over – but it was caught right up against the wall. However Jones very astutely tagged up and went to second base.

That brought Mark Trumbo to the plate, needing a base hit to end the game. And Trumbo didn’t disappoint, smacked an RBI-single to center which scored Jones. So from the depths of defeat, the O’s came back for a hard-fought 6-5 victory.

The O’s have had a few improbable losses this year, and this was one that they “got back” in a sense. And you’re going to have your share of games like this over the course of 162 games each year. Kevin Gausman obviously had a bit of a rough second inning, which is why the O’s trailed to begin with. But manager Buck Showalter as always sees things through a different lense. Gausman was making quality pitches, they just weren’t working out in the manner they were designed (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASN sports):

You know, I’d say rough, statistically. I’ll say this: He gets a chopper anywhere else and it sneaks through the infield, then he gets a broken-bat flare the other way off the end of the bat, then McCutchen fights a ball off and may have broken his bat in right. I think he gave up one hard-hit ball that inning. So, I kind of take that with a grain of salt. But it’s what happened after that. He kept us engaged in the game.

The big story of course was Schoop and Trumbo’s late-inning heroics. There’s really not much left to say other than the fact that power wins games. Being able to tack runs together here and there is fine, but if your team can hit-for-power you’ll never be out of a game. And we saw that with the Orioles last night.

This quick two-game set concludes this evening with Pittsburgh at Camden Yards. Wade Miley gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh’s Chad Kuhl. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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