The Orioles beat themselves tonight, refusing to let Ricky Romero self destruct. Blue Jays win, 9-5
Ugh. What an ugly, sloppy game. The Orioles wasted opportunity after opportunity tonight, refusing to treat Ricky Romero like the horrible starting pitcher that he is. And on the flip side, O's starter Wei-Yin Chen just looked like toast. I don't know what they'll do about that, but I don't see how they can run him out there for one more start this season, let alone in the playoffs.
Chen's troubles started right away with a two-run homer in the first inning by Edwin Encarnacion. There is certainly no shame in giving up a homer to Encarnacion, as it was his 41st of the year, but it was clear from the get go that Chen had little command. He gave up two more in the second inning thanks to a double by Omar Vizquel, who I think is about as old as my Granddad. That put the Orioles in an early 4-0 hole, but they had plenty, and I mean PLENTY of chances to get back in the game.
In the bottom of the second, the O's got their first chance, and they actually made something of it. Mark Reynolds and Manny Machado singled with one out, then moved up a base when Endy Chavez bunted. The box score has it down as a sacrifice, but it looked like he was trying (badly) to bunt for a hit. That brought Robert Andino to the plate, who hit a grounder to the left side that bounced approximately 75 times before squirting between the third baseman and shortstop. Two runs came in and the deficit was cut in half.
Romero then proved that he's his own worst enemy by letting Taylor Teagarden reach on his own throwing error, and hitting Nate McLouth to load the bases. But J.J. "Rally Killer" Hardy flew out to end the inning.
After the second inning, Chen got his act together a bit, putting up zeroes in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, and in the bottom of the fifth the O's offense wasted another bases-loaded chance. But first! Nate McLouth led off the inning with a home run. Well done, Nate! After Hardy K'd, Adam Jones doubled and with two outs, Romero walked Reynolds and Machado to load the base. Unfortunately that meant Chavez had to bat again, and as expected, he did not drive in any runs.
The Blue Jays scored their fifth run in the sixth inning, courtesy of a Moises Sierra home run. Chen then gave up back-to-back hits to Vizquel and J.P. Arencibia, putting runners on the corner with no outs. Buck Showalter brought in Jake Arrieta to relieve Chen, and Jake was brilliant. He struck out all three batters that he saw to end the inning and strand both runners. I was pumped for Jake after that, but he ruined that pretty quickly in the next inning.
But first, more shenanigans from the offense. In the bottom of the inning the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a double from Andino, a single by Teagarden, and a walk to McLouth. That drove Romero from the game in favor of Brad Lincoln, and Hardy lined the first pitch he saw into left field for a base hit, but it was hit so hard that only one run could score. Nonetheless, the Orioles still had bases loaded with no outs! Surely they could get ONE more run, right?
No. Adam Jones struck out and then Chris Davis lifted a fly ball to medium left field. Teagarden tagged up on the play, and was thrown out by a mile to end the inning. Oh my.
Back to Jake. After his Houdini act to get out of the sixth inning, he returned to pitch the seventh. As good as he was in the sixth, that's how bad he was in this inning. He loaded the bases with no outs, but then came back to get two outs without allowing a run. Maybe he'll get out of it! Or....not. Arencibia came to the plate and picked that moment to hit a grand slam. Oh, so THAT'S what you're supposed to do when the bases are loaded! Hopefully the Orioles were taking notes.
With the score 9-4, you might think that the Orioles went quietly into the night. But no, they lived to give us one more moment of false hope. They loaded the bases AGAIN with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Could they do it? Might they do it? If by "do it" you mean grounding into a double play, then the answer is yes. They scored a meaningless run on the double play by Reynolds to make it a 9-5 game, and then Manny Machado struck out to end the game.