The Orioles and Red Sox played a game tonight that meant nothing, but you wouldn't know it by watching either team. The Orioles have been eliminated and as soon as the Athletics lost this afternoon the Red Sox had clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Even without anything on the line the O's and Red Sox used five pitchers each in a game that featured multiple lead changes before the Orioles finally went ahead to stay in the bottom of the eighth inning and won 6-5.
The Orioles were facing longtime nemesis Jon Lester tonight and got on the board first with solo runs in the second and third innings. In the second, Steve Pearce doubled to knock in Nick Markakis. It was the first of three RBI on the night for Pearce. And in the third inning, Brian Roberts hit his eighth home run of the year to give the O's a 2-0 lead.
Wei-Yin Chen has had a lot of trouble against the Red Sox in his career, and while he didn't pitch spectacularly tonight, he held his own into the sixth inning. After the O's score two runs for him, he gave one back in the fourth inning on three singles and let the Red Sox tie the game in the fifth. Stephen Drew doubled and came in to score on a single by Dustin Pedroia.
The tie didn't last long thanks to three straight singles in the bottom of the fifth inning by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Danny Valencia. Wieters and Valencia each knocked in one run and the O's were on top 4-2.
Chen gave back one run in the sixth before being lifted for relief pitcher Josh Stinson with one out. Stinson got out of the sixth, but wasn't able to do so in the seventh. He gave up three hits and one run before Brian Matusz came in to stop the rally. He did not. With Pedroia on second base, Daniel Nava singled into left field to knock him in. Left fielder Jason Pridie fumbled the ball for an error but then threw Johnny Gomes out at third to end the inning. So I guess he made up for his mistake.
Down by one run going into the bottom of the eighth, the O's looked like they were headed to their 78th loss of the year. With runners on first and second and one out, Pearce stepped to the plate. He did exactly what the Orioles needed and doubled down the left field line. Both runners came in to score and the Orioles were back on top.
With a one-run lead, Jim Johnson came in to lock down the win. He got two quick outs before Mike Napoli singled to extend the game. Pinch runner Quintin Berry stole second, but it didn't matter as JJ got Gomes to strike out looking to end the game.
Last game of the season tomorrow!