Baltimore Orioles: The tough got going

The Baltimore Orioles’ series in Tampa got off to an inauspicious beginning with a ten-run loss on Friday night. But it was the Birds who got the last laugh, with a come-from-behind victory yesterday in the finale to end up taking two-of-three. As the title indicates, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Chris Tillman posted yet another early exit yesterday afternoon, Tillman’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 5 K. One thing I found interesting is that Tillman seemed to be doing okay against this Tampa lineup, and then in the second time through the order they started to square some pitches up against him. And that’s when Showalter made the change. Almost at the first sign of trouble.

The O’s struck first in the top of the second on Janish’s two-RBI single. Tampa would get a run back in the bottom of that second inning on a Featherton RBI-single, but the O’s still held the lead at 2-1. They extended that to 3-1 in the fourth on a Caleb Joseph solo homer.

Featherton would come back up in the last of the fourth, and drive in a run with a sac fly-RBI. However it was the last of the fifth that did Tillman in. Longoria smacked a three-run homer on a hanging changeup, and suddenly Tampa had a 5-3 lead.

A week ago that would have been a fatal blast against the O’s. Oriole bats would have gotten so nervous that they would have consistently swung through pitches trying to make things happen. However this time around they came across as a bit more relaxed.

And sure enough, one inning later in the sixth, Trey Manicini smacked a solo homer to bring the O’s to within 5-4. As the game wound down however, the Orioles needed one run to tie it. And they got that one run in the form of another solo homer, this one off the bat of Jonathan Schoop in the eighth. That was the key play of the game, and it put the O’s in a spot to win.

Following a lead off single, a sac bunt, and an intentional walk, Joey Rickart made Tampa pay with a ground rule RBI-double to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead. Tampa would then proceed to intentionally walk Machado, which loaded the bases for Jonathan Schoop once again. And Schoop, as he’s done numerous times in this series already, was hit by a pitch – which drove in another run to give the O’s a 7-5 lead. (Incidentally that HBP withstood a Tampa instant replay challenge.)

The O’s would add an additional run on a Jones sac fly-RBI, and ended up with an 8-5 victory. I found Tampa’s two IBB’s in the ninth inning to be very interesting. They were uncharacteristic of a home team in a close game like that. Road teams will often issiue intentional walks in the ninth inning because presumably the runner at first base wouldn’t mean anything. But to see a home team do it (and twice at that) was strange…

…but keep in mind that this is Tampa. They don’t do anything that’s “by the book” per se. Ironically most of their against the grain moves tend to work – and for a conventional team like the Orioles, that’s maddening. But for once it didn’t work, and the Birds took advantage.

Here’s something you don’t hear often anymore: the Orioles will have an off day today. Yes, you read that correctly. For the first time since June 5th, the Birds are off. No makeup game, no nothing. They’ll begin a series in Toronto tomorrow night.

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