This was just one of those games. Watching the Orioles, it felt like they had no chance to win. Scott Feldman allowed a home run to the first batter he faced and walked six, a career high. Manny Machado made two errors, and Nate McLouth one. The bats went 0-6 with runners in scoring position. And yet, there's a 3-2 win in the boxscore. How? Orioles Magic, that's how.
In the first, Manny Machado singled with one out, but Chris Davis and Adam Jones struck out. Scott Feldman took the mound and surrendered a homer to leadoff batter Dustin Pedroia, and then walked Shane Victorino thanks to a tight strike zone. David Ortiz helped Feldman out by hitting into a well-turned double play, though, and Mike Napoli grounded out to third.
Danny Valencia drew a one-out walk in the second, but Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy both grounded out. Feldman got himself in a jam in Boston's half, striking Daniel Nava out looking before giving up a one-out double to Mike Carp. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out, but Stephen Drew walked, putting runners on the corners with two down. Drew then stole second, and Xander Bogaerts walked, loading the bases. Dustin Pedroia, who had already homered, then stepped to the plate... but despite the sense of impending doom all Oriole fans must have been feeling, he lined out to Brian Roberts.
Things were pretty uneventful for the next inning-and-a-half, as the O's went down in order in both the third and fourth, and Scott Feldman surrendered a two-out walk without consequence in the former. In the bottom of the fourth, that sense of dread arose again, though. Manny Machado made a rare error to allow Saltalamacchia to reach with one out, and Feldman walked Drew, the former's fifth free pass of the game. The runners then both stole a base on Feldman's first pitch to Xander Bogaerts, after which Bogaerts hit a line drive to Nate McLouth... who couldn't quite catch it, allowing a run and putting runners on first and third with one down. Fortunately, Dustin Pedroia - like I said, impending doom again - grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, leaving the score at 2-0.
Danny Valencia drew his second walk of the game to lead off the fifth. Matt Wieters followed with a sharp lineout to second, but then J.J. Hardy hit a double off of the Monster, putting the tying runs on base for Brian Roberts. Roberts quickly ended up in an 0-2 hole thanks to a wide strike zone, but he managed to drive in Valencia with a groundout to short, making the score 2-1. Nate McLouth then walked, bringing Manny Machado to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs, but Manny popped out to short. Feldman continued to grind out innings in the bottom half, getting two quick outs before walking a career-high sixth batter, but retiring Daniel Nava on the first pitch with a flyout to left.
Chris Davis led off the sixth inning with a new Oriole record to tie the game: yes, his 51st home run, to straightaway center field. Adam Jones followed with an eight-pitch walk, and Nick Markakis came up to bat. With a 2-1 count and Adam Jones running, Nick drove the ball just shy of the warning track in center field, which would've easily been an RBI double if not for a great catch by Shane Victorino. Danny Valencia then made his first out of the night by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play, and the score remained 2-2.
Thanks to Feldman's struggles, T.J. McFarland came on to pitch the sixth. He was impressive, setting the Sox down in order on a groundout and a pair of strikeouts. In the seventh, the O's went down in order for the third time tonight, and Buck Showalter turned to Kevin Gausman. He became the second pitcher victimized by poor defense from Manny Machado, as Dustin Pedroia reached base with one out on Manny's second error of the night. Again, though, the O's got away with allowing an extra out, as Shane Victorino grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
The two Orioles who made errors started the eighth inning off with redemption in mind. Nate McLouth led off with a single to right, and then Manny Machado lined a double down the right-field line, giving Chris Davis a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs. That's a great opportunity to score, but Chris Davis and Adam Jones both grounded out to short - resulting in no runs, with the infield drawn in - and Nick Markakis flied out to left. It's simply astounding how much trouble the team has had with RISP lately. The bottom of the inning brought Brian Matusz to the mound to get David Ortiz out, and he did so, striking him out for the twelfth time in twenty plate appearances. Tommy Hunter then came on, and he retired both of the batters he faced.
Former Oriole Koji Uehara came on for the ninth and promptly gave up a leadoff triple to Danny Valencia. Alexi Casilla entered the game as a pinch-runner, and the O's would once again have three chances to get a runner home from third. Matt Wieters decided to take care of that immediately, cracking a sacrifice fly to right field on the second pitch of his at-bat. That, by the way, was the first run allowed by Uehara since 6 July, and the first earned run since 30 June. Koji retired J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts, but the game was now up to Jim Johnson.
Fortunately, Jim Johnson was the good version tonight. He retired Mike Carp on a groundout before allowing Jarrod "seriously, copy-paste my name" Saltalamacchia to hit a bounder up the middle for a hit. Stephen Drew hit another grounder to the middle, but Johnson was able to snare this one; with pinch-runner Quintin Berry moving with the pitch, however, he had to settle for the out at first. Johnson then struck out Xander Bogaerts on four pitches to secure the 3-2 win.
As of writing, the Rays have already lost to the Rangers, evening their records at 82-68 and putting the Orioles two games behind their Wild Card berths. The Yankees lost, putting them 1.5 games behind the O's, and the Indians and Royals are still playing. Regardless of how that game goes, Cleveland will be the only team between the O's and the two Wild Card slots - and regardless of that, the Orioles just need to keep winning if they want to make the playoffs. Tomorrow night's game pits Wei-Yin Chen against Jake Peavy.