A lot of crappy things happened in the first eight innings of this game. There were defensive miscues, baserunners left on, sloppy play all around. But then something magic happened.
So magic, in fact, that I'm not going to talk about Chris Davis dropping multiple balls thrown directly at him or Matt Wieters throwing balls into center field or the Orioles leaving the bases loaded in back-to-back innings. The only thing I'm going to talk about that happened in the first seven innings of the game is Jake Arrieta.
Arrieta had another good start, though it looked for most of the night that his efforts would be for naught. Through the first five innings of the game Arrieta pitched a gem. He faced eighteen batters and the only real blemish was a second inning home run by A.J. Pierzynski. Through five he struck out five, walked zero, and looked good throughout. Unfortunately the Orioles weren't providing him any support at the plate and the teams went into the sixth inning tied at one. Thanks to the previously mentioned troubles by Chris Davis, Arrieta was forced to throw some extra pitches in the sixth inning and ultimately made a mistake to Paul Konerko. Wieters set up low and away and Arrieta missed his spot high. Konerko flipped the ball into the right field corner to score two and give the White Sox a 3-1 lead. That lead became 4-1 when a runner who never should have been on third scored on a sacrifice fly.
Going into the eighth inning the Orioles looked lifeless and hopeless, but it just goes to show you that what you see isn't always what you get.
With one out in the eighth inning, Matt Wieters launched a ball to right field. It was out of the park easily but still the game felt out of reach. The O's wouldn't do anything else in the inning, and they'd go to the ninth down 4-2.
The White Sox closer, Hector Santiago came in to pitch the ninth inning in what seemed like it would be a relatively easy appearance. It wasn't. The first batter he faced was Nolan Reimold, who had pinch hit for Endy Chavez earlier in the game. All Reimold did was smoke a home run to left field. Seriously, there is no reason why he shouldn't be playing every day. He is on fire. After Santiago retired the next two batters and was one batter away from ending the game, Adam Jones also homered to left field, tying the game. Nice! Santiago then pitched around Matt Wieters (wouldn't you?) and retired pinch hitter Ronny Paulino to end the inning in a tie.
Pedro Strop came in for the bottom of the ninth and made quick work of the White Sox, retiring the side in order. And that's when the fun started.
Zach Stewart replaced Santiago and the first batter up was Mark Reynolds, who hit a long fly ball to center field. It was almost a home run, but center fielder Alejandro De Aza settled under it on the warning track, raised his glove, and completely missed the ball! It pretty much fell right next to him. Reynolds ended up on third base on the error, and then scored on a double to left by Chris Davis, another ball that the outfielder looked kinda silly trying to field. That gave the Orioles a one-run lead, but they weren't even close to being finished. Robert Andino hit a grounder to third base and hustled his way to an infield single. Davis went to third on the play and scored on Reimold's second hit of the night, a single into left field. Two-run lead!
That brought the scuffling J.J. Hardy to the plate, and J.J. dragged a bunt down the first base side. Konerko charged in to play it and was so busy looking at the runners advance that he didn't notice Gordon Beckham covering first and Hardy was safe. After Nick Markakis grounded into a force out and Jones struck out, it looked like the O's would have to make do with their two-run lead. At least, it did until Wieters hit a grand slam. Ho hum, what a busted prospect. The grand salami gave the Orioles the ridiculous six-run lead and Strop came back for the bottom of the tenth to close it out.
What a game. What a turnaround. This is my second game recap, as the first draft had to be scrapped (happily) in the ninth inning. That first recap was so cranky. Thanks to the Orioles for giving me the opportunity to write a new one.