The Orioles began this game by predictably getting shut down by a rookie pitcher and providing next to no offense for Zach Britton, who has developed an acute case of Guthrie-itis in regards to run support. But a late-inning comeback topped off with a walkoff home run by Adam Jones turned a snoozer of a game into an exciting win, the O's third in a row. Good times!
The Royals got on the board in the first inning when leadoff hitter Alex Gordon dropped a bunt down the third base line for a single. Melky Cabrera, whose hitting line has been decidedly un-Melky-like so far this season, ripped a line drive back up the middle that nearly took Britton's head off. After Britton struck Eric Hosmer out on a gorgeous 3-2 changeup, the reanimated corpse of Jeff Francoeur singled to left field to knock in Gordon and give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
After an easy 1-2-3 inning in the second, Alex Gordon came to the plate again, but this time he didn't bunt. Instead he ripped a 408 foot home run to right field, giving the Royals what seemed like an insurmountable two-run lead.
The most frustrating play of the night came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Duffy lost control and walked the first two batters, Hardy and Brandon Snyder. With two runners on and no outs, the O's had someting cooking for the first time all night. So what does Buck Showalter call for Andino to do? BUNT! I know, right? Two runners on, down by two, no outs, and a pitcher who couldn't throw strikes, and they bunted. Sigh.
To add to it all, Andino couldn't get the bunt down. He popped it up. Third baseman Wilson Betemit caught the ball in the air and doubled Hardy off of second base. That effectively killed the rally, and Jones grounded out weakly to second base to end the inning.
The top of the sixth inning was a tough one for Britton. Francoeur lead off with a single and then stole second on a rare poor throw from Wieters. Billy Butler came through for the Royals with a single up the middle that scored Frenchy and gave the Royals a 3-0 lead. Britton retired the next two batters but then walked Alcides Escobar to extend the inning. That brought Alex Gordon to the plate, who already had two hits on the night, but Britton induced a pop up.
That'd be it for Britton. His final line: 6 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.
The O's finally broke through with some offense in the bottom of the sixth, knocking Duffy from the game. Markakis hit a single to right field that looked like a double off the bat, but Frenchy got to the ball very quickly and Nick wisely held up at first base. After Vladdy hit a fly ball to right for the first out, Wieters socked a ball to left field. It looked a like a home run but it instead hit off the very top of the wall. Markakis, who had stolen second, scored easily on the double. Wieters was the last batter Duffy faced as Louis Coleman came in from the bullpen.
Since Coleman is a sidearming righty, Showalter pinch hit for Nolan Reimold with Luke Scott. Coleman's first pitch to Scott got by the catcher, allowing Wieters to move to third. After working a 2-0 count, Scott just looked bad at the plate. He flailed at two pitches out of the zone before hitting a ball that deflected off the pitcher. The shortstop, Escobar, tried to bare hand the ball but couldn't. Wieters scored the second run of the inning for the Orioles and Luke was safe at first. As Mark Reynolds stepped to the plate, I thought of how he was supposed to hit a billion home runs and strike out a billion times. Instead he grounded into a force out. Hardy struck out to end the inning.
Jeremy Accardo worked through a shaky seventh inning without allowing any runs, and retired the first two batters in the eighth before being replaced with Clay Rapada, who retired the only batter he faced.
The top of the ninth saw the 2011 debut of murder suspect Alfredo Simon. The Saucy one looked pretty good, sitting at about 94 with his fastball and throwing a fair number of splitters. He retired Cabrera on a fly ball to right field. Hosmer hit a bullet to right that Markakis caught with a jump, and Francoeur struck out looking to end the inning.
On to the bottom of the ninth! All the O's needed to do was score two runs off of Joakim Soria. No problemo! Mark Reynolds started the inning with a fly out to center (We were promised medium-depth fly balls!), then the fun began. J.J. Hardy hit his second double of the night, a ball that went past the third baseman and hit the umpire on the leg. Tying run in scoring position!
Brandon Snyder was due up next, but Showalter made the genius move of pinch hitting with Felix Pie. Pie, never one to waste any time, hit the first pitch he saw for a double over the bag at third base. Hardy raced in to tie the game. Yay Felix!
With the winning run now on second with only one out, Robert Andino had the chance to be the hero. He struck out on three pitches. Better luck next time, kid.
Luckily for Andino, Adam Jones was fully prepared to be the hero tonight. He fouled the first pitch straight back, then took a big cut at the second pitch. Down to his last strike, he murdered the next pitch he saw to straight away center. The ball sailed over the center field fence in the deepest part of the park, giving the Orioles the win.