This game is the kind that's hard to write about. How do you fit over four hours and 13 innings worth of action into an easily digestible format, anyway? Let's start with the starting pitching. The ugly starting pitching.
What's the best thing to be said about Jake Arrieta's performance? It was a lot better than what we saw from Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman this week. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. Through the first five innings, Arrieta allowed just two hits. Unfortunately both were home runs, one each to B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce. He went into the sixth inning with a reasonable pitch count of 79, but things unraveled in a hurry from there. A double, a single, a wild pitch, and a walk later and Arrieta had allowed another run and run his pitch count to 96. He was clearly tired and Juan Samuel pulled him in favor of Jason Berken.
Remember how great the bullpen was in Monday's loss? In this game, not so much. Berken (with some help from a poor throw from Ty Wigginton) allowed both of the runners he inherited from Arrieta to score, along with one of his own. As tends to happen in a 13 inning game, the bullpen was exhausted during this game. In addition to Berken, the Orioles used Will Ohman, David Hernandez, Alfredo Simon, and Koji Uehara. Simon pitched two good innings but was undone in the third, the first time he'd pitched so long in relief. Only Koji didn't 1) allow an inherited runner to score, or 2) allow a run of his own. So it's nice that he ended up getting the win. All told the bullpen pitched 7.2 innings, allowed five runs, and walked six. It wasn't pretty.
The Orioles, to their credit, finally managed to put runs on the board commensurate to their hits. They still left eight runners on base, but eleven runs on sixteen hits is much more respectable than what we're used to seeing.
Matt Garza has historically owned the Orioles. I know, I know, what half decent starting pitcher worth his salary hasn't? Not tonight, though. Like Arrieta, Garza gave up solo home runs early but didn't allow things to get out of control until his final inning, when he just fell apart. In the third inning the Orioles hit back-to-back-to-back home runs courtesy of Luke Scott, Ty Wigginton, and Adam Jones. Luke wasn't finished, though, as he added another solo home run in the fourth. Four runs in four innings gave the Orioles a lead, but Garza settled down long enough for his team to get back on top. In the 7th inning, however, Garza faltered again, allowing the Orioles to score three times on four hits, including another by Luke Scott. It's good to have him back, wouldn't you say?
The Rays used even more relievers than the Orioles, if you can believe it. After Garza exited with one out in the seventh, Randy Choate and Joaquin Benoit held the score at 8-7, but Rafael Soriano couldn't lock down the save in the 9th. A single by Cesar Izturis and a double by Felix Pie put runners on second and third with none out, and Miguel Tejada brought them home with a double of his own. That sent the game into extra innings, and the teams would exchange zeroes until the 12th. In the top of that inning, Simon finally cracked and, along with a throwing error by Tatum, allowed the Rays to go ahead 10-9. The O's came right back, though, with Corey Patterson re-tying the game by racing home on a ball hit to medium center field by Scott Moore.
Finally, in the bottom of the 13th inning, having been there for 4.5 hours and with another game just about 13 hours away, the Orioles prevailed. Our old friend Lance Cormier came in to pitch for the Rays and immediately walked Cesar Izturis. A Pie bunt moved Izzy to second, and on the first pitch he saw in his second at bat of the game, Julio Lugo lined a double to right, scoring Izzy and mercifully ending the game.
With that, the Orioles won their 30th game of the year. On July 20th. In the last three games, the Orioles bullpen has contributed 21.1 innings and it's likely that Mark Hendrickson (4.1 IP on Sunday), Albers (3.1 IP on Monday), David Hernandez (3.0 IP between Monday and Tuesday), Koji Uehara (2.1 IP between Monday and Tuesday), and Alfredo Simon (3.2 IP between Monday and Tuesday) will not be available for Wednesday's afternoon game. Here's hoping Brad Bergesen has a complete game in him.