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Orioles 4, Twins 3: The arbitrary nature of existence

Arbitrary rules have been unfair to Wei-Yin Chen for most of this month, but today things worked out in his favor. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Arbitrary rules have been unfair to Wei-Yin Chen for most of this month, but today things worked out in his favor. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

In the span of about one minute early on in today's game, MASN play-by-play man Gary Thorne noted that Wei-Yin Chen had lost his last three decisions, then a graphic was posted onto the screen which informed the audience that Chen, in fact, was tied for the fewest hits allowed in July (minimum 3 starts) - with 9 hits allowed on the month. What a great illustration of the arbitrary nature of pitcher W-L records. Chen, in fact, had two good July starts and took no decisions in both due to bullpen shenanigans - somehow this makes him a worse pitcher than some clown like Ivan Nova who gets a million runs of support? Get out of here with that crap.

For most of today's game, it looked like Chen was in line for another hard-luck loss. His defense let him down in the first inning - what else is new? - when Wilson Betemit was unable to catch a perfect strike from Matt Wieters that would have thrown out a runner stealing third. For good measure, the next ball in play went past a diving Betemit. And the next one after that was a fly ball to left that a speedy outfielder such as Xavier Avery may have caught. Instead, Chris Davis did his best to cut it off and keep it from being a double instead of a triple.

That was a 2-0 deficit, and with the Orioles being their typically futile selves with runners in scoring position, you could be forgiven for thinking that was going to be that. Chris Davis got the O's on the board in the second inning with a monster shot to left field that was measured at 415 feet. If it didn't clear the Target Field gate on the bounce, it came very close to doing so. Then, nothing. Then, more nothing. Then...

The Twins added another run on some dink and dunk bloop hits in the 4th that led to a sacrifice fly by Alexi Casilla. Chen was on the hook for three earned runs - though it certainly should have been two - and probably another loss. What else can you expect when the offense can't score any runs?

Chen held in there. He would ultimately throw seven innings on the day, with six hits and one walk surrendered. We'll take a nice, cool 1.00 WHIP, yes. He also hit a batter.

In the 8th inning, Matt Wieters and Betemit walked with one out. Twins reliever Trent Richardson induced a ground ball from Chris Davis that was hit just soft enough to prevent a double play, which left two runners in scoring position with two out. Mark Reynolds stepped up to the plate. That would be the same Reynolds whom some act like is the worst player on the Orioles despite his .336 OBP. We all waited for the routine grounder, for the 0-8 with RISP - and Reynolds hit a blooper, the second baseman and center fielder and right fielder all came in towards it. We waited for the catch to be made, but the ball fell into that Bermuda Triangle, two runs scored, and the O's took a 4-3 lead.

In that moment, with that perfectly-placed base hit transforming Chen from a loser into a winner, you could not help but appreciate the arbitrary nature of existence.

If you really want to think about it (and you probably don't, but I'm feeling philosophical, so, sorry), that play could only happen at that time and place because this slab of rock happens to orbit at the right distance from its star - which star is in the right cycle of its life to sustain life at this distance - and that on that rock sentient life eventually came to be, sentient life that over tens of thousands of years has migrated, created cultures that have come and gone, with somewhere along the way a game with arbitrarily-assigned rules that was given the name of baseball in the English language (which language itself evolved from a series of arbitrarily-assigned words, was adopted by the necessary groups of people at the necessary points of history, and so on).

The end result, for today, being that 25 guys who represent the team from a place that, 283 years ago was given the name Baltimore - which happened to be the anglicization of the name of a member of the Irish House of Lords - took the field to play 25 guys who represent the team from a place named Minneapolis, incorporated 145 years ago and so named because "minnehaha" is the Dakota word for waterfall and "polis" is the Greek word for city.

Anyway, the point is they played a baseball game, and every play in that game, every swing of the bat, every catch that was made or not made, every pitch that was thrown, led up to that moment, where Reynolds hit the baseball. Had he swung just a little faster or slower, made contact with the ball in any different way, had the wind been slightly different, that baseball could have landed anywhere. But everything happened exactly as it happened, the ball landed on the outfield grass, and the Orioles went on to win the game, raising their record to 48-44, and keeping them within a half-game of one of the wild card spots as they salvaged a series split.

Oh yeah, and all of this stuff was witnessed by 37,676 people at Target Field who paid to attend the game, each of whom has a unique life story that stretches farther back than we, as a species, have kept records, all of which led them to choose to attend this particular game in that place at that time - with money that is itself an arbitrary concept chosen to represent value, and...

Man. Life is really cool when you sit down and think about it.

But it's a lot more cool when the Orioles find a way, through all the flukes of existence, to win a game, don't you think?

Next, they will travel to Cleveland for four games against the Indians, with the first game scheduled for a first pitch of 7:05pm. Derek Lowe will be on the mound to begin for Cleveland and Miguel Gonzalez will get the start for the Orioles.