Tonight's game between the Mariners and Orioles was a messy back-and-forth affair that took thirteen innings and over four hours to complete. It featured four blown saves, ten bullpen pitchers, and three comebacks by the Orioles before it was all over. When the dust settled, the O's had their first win in five games and their first extra-innings win of the year.
Raise your hand if you were expecting a pitchers duel tonight? Lots of you? Makes sense considering the Orioles and Mariners have two of the worse offenses in baseball, and for six innings the two young starting pitchers held up their end of the deal. What many of us didn't consider in said presumed pitchers duel was the bullpens of each team, and it was the bullpens that decided the game. Well, the bullpens and two lousy, lousy offenses.
Arrieta had a solid game and got good results, but he just threw too many pitches. He went to a three-ball count to eleven of the twenty-four batters that he faced, which ultimately limited him to just six innings (again). He allowed both runs in the second inning on a home run to Adam Kennedy (seriously, that guy). Scoring on the home run was Miguel Olivo, who Arrieta had walked to lead off the inning.
Arrieta allowed just one hit after the second inning, a double to Ichiro Suzuki in the fifth. He also walked two more but didn't allow any more damage. With 103 pitches after six innings, Arrieta was finished. His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K.
Rookie sensation Michael Pineda worked past two singles in the first inning, then after a 1-2-3 second gave up a home run to the newly activated J.J. Hardy. Welcome back to Birdland, James Jerry! We missed you. After the slumping Brian Roberts hit a fly ball to left, Pineda walked Nick Markakis but then pitched two perfect innings to preserve the Mariners' lead.
The sixth inning, however, was not kind to Pineda. He quickly retired Markakis and Derrek Lee, and that's when things got fun. Vladimir Guerrero and Luke Scott singled to put runners on first and second, then Adam Jones hit a double down the left field line. Vlad and Luke raced (well, for them) around the bases to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead, their first since in forty innings.
Ah, a lead. So this is what it feels like! It's so nice. And how nice of the O's bullpen to let us hold onto that feeling for two entire thirds of an inning!
Coming in to replace Arrieta, Mike Gonzalez got the first two batters out before remembering that he's Mike Gonzalez and is contractually required to suck at least once a week. Back-to-back singles by Michael Saunders and Ichiro (with Ichiro's being of the bunt variety) put two runners on base for Chone Figgins. It's a good thing he's been terrible at the plate this year, right? Doesn't matter! He doubled to right, scoring Saunders and re-tying the game at three. Buck then elected to intentionally walk Justin Smoak (he of the 169 OPS+) to get to "cleanup hitter" Miguel Olivo. Koji Uehara came in to face Olivo, who hit a sharp ground ball to third base. Reynolds couldn't handle it and Ichiro scored from third. The ball was ruled a hit, but it seems Reynolds really should have made that play.
After an uneventful bottom of the seventh inning, Koji returned to pitch a perfect eighth. It was good to see Koji have a good night after his recent troubles (you really can't blame him for the "hit" that allowed the go ahead run to score for the Mariners).
After getting a scoreless seventh inning from former O's farmhand David Pauley, the Mariners turned to super old Jamey Wright to hold their lead in the eighth, but hold it he could not. He started things with a walk to Silky D (that is Derrek Lee's new nickname, courtesy of a dude in the stands who yelled it fourteen thousand times tonight), then Vlad singled for his third hit of the game. Luke Scott then singled in Silky D to re-tie the game, bringing the hot Adam Jones to the plate. Dr. Jones already had one go-ahead base hit under his belt, could he get another? Well I said he was hot, so you know that he did. Jones singled up the middle and pinch runner Cesar Izturis came around to score the fifth run of the night for the Orioles, giving them another lead. Unfortunately they couldn't score any more runs, which gave the Kevin Gregg just a one-run lead to work with.
Gregg, of course, couldn't hold that lead. Although in all fairness, it wasn't totally his fault. He was victim of a couple bloop hits as a pop up by Saunders fell just in front of Jones (not a knock on Adam, it was just a Texas leaguer), then, two outs later, Justin Smoak hit a soft liner that fell in front of Felix Pie in left to score Saunders. Feel free to vilify Gregg if you like, because it's fun, but was those are the facts.
The bottom of the 9th inning found Hardy leading off and like the good player that he is, he walked. Brian Roberts, who has been slumping miserably, bunted Hardy over to second, then Markakis lined a sharp single into left field. For reasons that cannot be explained, 3B coach John Russell waved in Hardy despite the fact that THE LEFT FIELDER HAD THE BALL OUT OF HIS GLOVE BEFORE HARDY GOT TO THIRD. He was thrown out by a mile for the second out, then with Jake Fox on deck (he was pinch hitting for Izturis, who pinch ran for Vlad, got it?) the Mariners opted to intentionally walk Silky D. The move worked as Fox harmlessly popped up to end the inning.
With the game in extra innings, Showalter turned to Jim Johnson, who is awesome. Johnson pitched a perfect tenth inning. The O's had some drama in the bottom of the tenth when Felix Pie and Justin Smoak collided a bit at first base and Felix got an attitude over it. The benches cleared and the guys in the bullpen halfheartedly trotted in from the outfield, but the umpires and Showalter put the kibosh on the kerfuffle rather quickly. Jones then doubled again (he really had himself a day) but was stranded.
After another perfect inning by JJ (where was this guy in the ninth inning?), Hardy again got on base to lead off the inning. How about this guy? Fourth time on base of the night! Roberts AGAIN bunted him over, but this time Markakis struck out and after the Mariners intentionally walked Silky D again, Fox AGAIN made the last out the inning.
On to the 12th! Jim Johnson was replaced by...Jeremy Accardo! No! He's not good! And to prove it, Figgins started the inning with a single, but was then thankfully erased on a double play ball off the bat of Smoak. Not to confuse anyone into thinking Accardo is a good pitcher, he then walked Miguel Olivo so that Stumblin' Jack Cust could hit a double to right field. Markakis played the ball and fired to Roberts, who hit Wieters with a perfect throw to gun down Olivo to end the inning (he looked safe to me, but whatever).
Bottom of the 12th! Embarrassed by his emotional outburst earlier, Felix lined a double to right-center to start things off. The Mariners opted to intentionally walk the smoking-hot Jones, and for them it was the right move. Wieters flew out and Reynolds struck out, and after an infield single by Hardy (fourth hit of the night, fifth time on base) to load the bases, Roberts struck out to end the inning. Brian Roberts just looks terrible out there, folks. It's sad.
Accardo remained on to pitch in the 13th inning, and as I have stressed to you a number of times, he is not a good pitcher. Jack Wilson and his .277 OBP hit a double to get things started, then moved to third on a cheap hit by Mike Wilson (his first ML hit, congrats to Mike), a pop up that glanced off of Hardy's glove. Jack Wilson scored and the Mariners finally took the lead.
Brandon League came in to face the O's in the bottom of the 13th, with Nick Markakis leading off. Nick singled to right, his third hit of the night, bringing up Silky D. Let's go, Silky D! Sadly, Silky D struck out, but Jake Fox finally got a hit with a seeing-eye grounder between the 3B and SS. With one out, Felix came to the plate. He worked the count to 2-1 then hit a ball sharply to Wilson at second. It looked like he'd make the play but the ball took a nasty hop right over his glove and into right field. Markakis raced home to tie the game.
The way this game had gone to that point, I figured that Jones would probably hit into a double play and end the inning, and well, he tried. He hit a ground ball to the M's shortstop who bobbled it, then when he realized he wouldn't be able to get the double play, he fired home where Fox was tagged out. That left the path clear for our hero, Matt Wieters. Wieters had gone 1-for-6 to that point, but he came through this time, lining the first pitch he saw into center field. Pie raced around third and beat the throw home to score the winning run. He threw a triumphant fist pump into the air as the Orioles flooded out of the dugout to celebrate.
What a game. What a debacle. What terrible baseball teams.