Wow. There was just a lot of awesomeness tonight. The Red Sox continued their plummet, the Orioles continued their hot September, Robert Andino hit an inside-the-park home run the first time his dad ever came to see him play professional baseball, and of course, the Rays won as well, tying things up in the wild-card race.
Normally, with Josh Beckett on the mound against the Orioles in September would be the recipe for disaster, but in the bizarro world that is September 2011, it didn't really matter.
The game started off poorly for O's starter Tommy Hunter, as two walks and a single in the first inning loaded the bases with two outs, but a fly ball out from Jed Lowrie ended the inning. The Red Sox got on the board in the second inning when a double by Jacoby Ellsbury knocked in J.D. Drew, but the Orioles got that right back in the bottom of the inning courtesy of Matt Wieters' 21st home run of the year.
Lowrie homered to lead off the fourth inning, but in the bottom of the fifth Chris Davis singled in the tying run. The O's loaded the bases with only one out after Davis' single, but J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis couldn't break open the game.
Tommy Hunter's pulled groin was acting up and so, despite his fine pitching, he came out of the game after five innings. Thankfully the O's bullpen was more than up for the task. Troy Patton retired all five batters he faced, and he was followed by Willie Eyre, Clay Rapada, and Pedro Strop, none of whom allowed a run.
The Orioles went ahead to stay in the sixth inning with four runs against Beckett. After Vladimir Guerrero led off with a single, Wieters lined out Adam Jones struck out. But Mark Reynolds walked to put two runners on for Davis, who lined a double to left field. The ball rattled around in the corner and Vlad scored easily. Reynolds would have scored as well, but he fell down rounding third and had to go back.
With a runner on third and two down, Robert Andino came to the plate. The cameras had panned to Andino's father in the stands several times during the game, and the adorable Mr. Andino watched eagerly as his son stood in the batters box. Dino his a fly ball to deep center field. Jacoby Ellsbury raced back, back, back, and jumped up to get the ball. For a second it looked like he made an outstanding catch, but when he crashed into the wall the ball popped out of his glove. Reynolds had already scored easily and Dino flew around the bases. The throw home was a good one and it short hopped Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty couldn't handle it and Andino scored easily. Just awesome!
That made the score 6-2 in favor of the Orioles. Matt Angle tried to bunt for a base hit to extend the inning, but he was thrown out. When the game came back from commercial, Mr. Andino was in the stands calling everyone he knew to tell them about Robbie's inside the parker. It was fantastic.
Jim Johnson came in to close the game and he got into trouble, hitting Ellsbury and balking him over to second where scored on a single by Dustin Pedroia. But he got out of it and struck out Jed Lowrie to end the game. The Rays defeated the Yankees several minutes before the O's game ended, and so they broadcast this game on the jumbotron in Tampa so that the fans there could cheer the Orioles to victory.
You know, it's not the playoffs, and what I really want more than anything is for the Orioles to be good again. But baseball has been fun the last few weeks, and for an Orioles fan in September 2011, I'll take it.
Who was tonight's Most Birdland Player?
Matt Wieters (21st HR, threw out another guy trying to steal) (22 votes)
Chris Davis (game tying single, go-ahead double) (19 votes)
Robert Andino (Inside the park 3-run HR, a proud papa in the stands) (322 votes)
363 total votes