After dispatching the reeling Angels in three straight games, the Orioles came face-to-face with the first-place Chicago White Sox. Against John Danks, who's been a quality starter for the Sox this year, the possibility of a victory seemed so much slimmer, especially considering that the shaky Brad Bergesen was starting for the Orioles. What's great about baseball - and all sports, really - is that expected outcomes don't matter as much as what actually happens. And thanks to some extra-innings heroics from Adam Jones, the Orioles won their fourth straight game to remain undefeated in the Buck Showalter era.
The O's struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Three straight singles to open the game by Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton lead to a run scoring, though they would not score again until extra innings. In fact, the top four hitters were the only Orioles to record a hit or a walk until Jones' game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th. These are the sorts of games we would have lost many times this season. Indeed, it was only the Orioles' fourth win when scoring three runs or less all year.
Yet thanks to a gem of a game from Bergesen, the O's stayed in the game even with only the one run scored. Bergy allowed a number of deep hits, including the home run by Gordon Beckham that represented the White Sox's only run of the game, but he never allowed more than one baserunner in any inning. Striking out five to only one walk, he looked like someone who deserves to be in a major league rotation. Pure luck or the magical Buck effect? You decide.
Koji Uehara and Alfredo Simon continued the fine pitching performance, never allowing more than one hit or walk per inning. There's been some shaky bullpen action lately, but Koji and Simon had it locked down tonight. Credit to both of them for reaching back and retiring the next hitter after allowing a baserunner. This is the kind of baseball we could get used to seeing.
The O's had some frustrating innings where they were unable to muster a run, particularly the bottom of the 8th, where they loaded the bases with only one out but couldn't manage to plate anybody. Still, all's well that ends well because in their first crack at extra frames they got the job done. Markakis singled and took third on a nice, aggressive heads-up play as Luke Scott singled. Jones batting with two men down and a runner in scoring position has seemed like not a great combination this season, but that didn't matter tonight. He made solid contact on a grounder through the 3B-SS hole for the Birds' second straight walk-off win.
And now, as promised, we take a step or six million away from reality and pursue that flighty temptress, dream:
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||67||42||.614||0||Lost 3|
|Los Angeles||55||56||.495||13||Won 1|
|Kansas City||46||62||.425||20.5||Lost 1|
(updated 8.6.2010 at 10:28 PM EDT)
That's quite the trek, but then, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, doesn't it?
The Orioles look to make it five in a row tomorrow with Kevin Millwood taking the mound against Maryland's own Gavin Floyd of the Sox. I have it on good authority that if Showalter can get Millwood to not suck, Stacey will be naming her first-born after Buck. As if we weren't rooting for the Orioles already, there's some extra incentive, because that would just be hilarious.