The good news about this game is that the Orioles won. Matt Wieters hit a two-run single in the tenth to walk off with the win after the Orioles had lost the lead in the top of the inning. They've taken the first three games of a four-game set from the Chicago White Sox, games they absolutely must win. Unfortunately, due to an absolutely horrible day at the plate for the Orioles with runners in scoring position, it took them until the 10th inning to secure the win.
The Orioles scored a run in the top of the first inning when Chris Davis doubled in Manny Machado from first base. They scored another on a solo home run by Brian Roberts in the fifth inning. Outside of those two plays, the Orioles spent most of the game wasting opportunity after opportunity. In the game they went just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position in inning, with one a bunt single by Adam Jones and the other the walk-off hit.
The O's left runners on base in every inning except the third and the ninth, when they were retired in order. Four times an inning ended with a runner on third; four times there was a runner on second, and once they left the bases loaded. It was frustrating to watch and felt like a sure loss in the making.
Wei-Yin Chen started for the Orioles and pitched six innings with two runs allowed. The first runs scored in the fourth inning when Paul Konerko singled in Alexei Ramirez, who had doubled with one out. The second was on a solo home run by Dayan Viciedo in the fifth. Chen allowed six total hits and didn't walk any. He struck out eight, his second highest total on the year.
Often when Chen has pitched it felt like Buck Showalter left him out too long despite it appearing obvious that he was near the end of the line. That did not happen in this game, thankfully. When Chen came out for the sixth inning there were pitchers up in case he started to falter. He gave up a one-out ground rule double to Konerko but otherwise looked good. But instead of sending him back out for the seventh with 99 pitches, Showalter went to Darren O'Day. A very good move in my opinion.
While the Orioles were failing at the plate over and over, the bullpen kept the game tied. O'Day pitched two innings without a hit allowed and Jim Johnson came in to pitch the ninth and got three quick outs.
Tommy Hunter made an appearance in the tenth inning and gave up the lead with a home run by pinch hitter Conor Gillaspie. As the ball sailed onto the flag court it seemed that the ghosts of all those runners left in scoring position were coming back to haunt the team.
White Sox closer Addison Reed got a ground ball out from J.J. Hardy to start the bottom of the tenth, but pinch hitter Henry Urrutia slapped a single to left field that just got beyond the dive of the White Sox third baseman. Urrutia was replaced by the speedy Chris Dickerson at first with Nick Markakis at the plate. It's no secret that Nick has looked lost at the plate. He had grounded out to second three times and popped out once. I wished for a pinch hitter but I knew they'd never do it. He hit another pop up but this one thankfully fell into no man's land, just out of the reach of the left fielder, third baseman, and shortstop. Dickerson alertly got to third on the play to put runners on the corners and hope back into the hearts of the fans.
Nate McLouth had the chance to play the hero, but he couldn't get the job done. He fought off pitch after pitch before freezing as strike three went over the plate. As he struck out, Markakis took off for second base and got there without an attempted throw.
Matt Wieters had come on as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. At the time there had been runners on first and third and one out, but he struck out swinging. This time, though, he came through. He watched three pitches go by for a 2-1 count, then lined a ball down the right field line. The only question was if the right fielder would be able to make a spectacular play on the ball. He didn't come close and it fell in with both runners scoring to give the Orioles the win.
Tomorrow the Orioles will go for a rare four-game sweep as the White Sox try to avoid their second ten-game losing streak of the year. Game time is 1:35. See you then!