After a loss like last night's, it's hard not to feel like the Orioles are out of the playoff picture. They like to do just enough to keep hope alive, though, and they did just that with a nice come-from-behind win tonight. For what seems (but probably isn't) the first time in ages, the bullpen didn't give up any runs, despite being called upon for four innings after Jason Hammel's abbreviated outing. The offense got a few clutch hits, too, plus one big home run from Chris Davis.
Nate McLouth singled to right to lead off the game, but Jays starter Todd Redmond retired the next three Orioles, stranding him. Jose Reyes led off the Jays' turn at the plate by doubling to right-center, but attempted to stretch it into a triple. With none out, Jays manager John Gibbons was no doubt unhappy about Reyes's decision, as Adam Jones made a tremendous throw for the out at third, and Jason Hammel retired the next two batters.
The game was pretty quiet through the top of the fourth, as Redmond retired every Oriole he faced except Nick Markakis, who singled in the second and was hit by a pitch in the fourth. Hammel pitched pretty well, too, but got some help from his defense in the third: Moises Sierra hit a line drive right at Nate McLouth, and Manny Machado made a great play on J.P. Arencibia's sharp grounder down the third base line.
In the bottom of the fourth, Jason Hammel got two quick outs before walking Edwin Encarnacion. All too predictably, he then gave up a first-pitch home run to Adam Lind, giving the Jays a 2-0 lead. Hammel then surrendered another homer in the fifth, to leadoff batter Colby Rasmus, and the game was feeling pretty hopeless at this point, as the Orioles went down in order in both the fifth and sixth innings. Despite Hammel's reasonable pitch count, Buck turned to Kevin Gausman in the sixth, who retired the side in order with a couple of groundouts and a strikeout.
Adam Jones got the seventh inning off to a good start with a double to right field. After Nick Markakis grounded out to second, moving Jones over to third, John Gibbons called in Dustin McGowan to pitch to J.J. Hardy. Hardy responded by driving in the O's first run with a double to left field. Ryan Flaherty then drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out for Danny Valencia, who couldn't replicate last night's heroics and popped out to first. Steve Clevenger, though, decided to make his first game as an Oriole memorable, hitting a two-out line drive to right field. Even better, the ball bounced over Moises Sierra's head, allowing not only Hardy but Flaherty to score, tying the game and giving Clevenger a double. Nate McLouth drew a walk, putting two men on and ending McGowan's night, but Sergio Santos struck out Manny Machado to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, T.J. McFarland came on in place of Kevin Gausman, and was only able to record one out before giving up a pair of singles to Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus. Buck Showalter then turned to Tommy Hunter, who struck out Moises Sierra and J.P. Arencibia on seven pitches total, escaping the first-and-third, one out jam.
Chris Davis led off the eighth inning against Steve Delabar with his fiftieth home run of the year, tying Brady Anderson for the Orioles' record for homers in a season (and benefiting from a generous two-strike check-swing call on the pitch prior). Adam Jones followed with an infield single, and after Markakis and Hardy made outs, Ryan Flaherty walked, bringing up Danny Valencia. This time, he came through, driving in Adam Jones with a line-drive single to center and giving the O's an insurance run.
With the score now 5-3, Tommy Hunter stayed on to pitch the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Anthony Gose before retiring the next three batters. Nate McLouth singled up the middle against Darren Oliver to start the ninth, but Oliver retired the next two Orioles. Adam Jones then singled, but Nick Markakis struck out, stranding both runners.
Jim Johnson, last night's goat, gave up a leadoff single to Orioles' nemesis Adam Lind, but then caught a line drive up the middle by Brett Lawrie and doubled up Lind before striking out Colby Rasmus to seal the victory. O's win, 5-3.
As of this writing, the Yankees and Royals have lost, but the Rays and Indians have won, so the O's are still behind all of those teams except the Royals and are 2.5 games back of the Rays. Tomorrow, Chris Tillman will face Esmil Rogers at 4:07 ET.