Wednesday's starting pitcher for the Brewers beat the Orioles on Tuesday night. The National League is an insane asylum where the patients should never be allowed to breathe free air or see the light of day again. T.J. McFarland, who gave up a walk-off double to pinch hitting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, should probably be exiled to Norfolk forever out of spite. There can be no recovering from that. The Orioles lost the game in 10 innings, 7-6.
The Orioles had no business losing this game. They also had no business winning it. There are a lot of games like that over the course of a baseball season. They played one of them on Monday afternoon and won it. They played another one on Tuesday night and lost that game. It's frustrating because they rallied to come back from an early deficit and coughed away a game that ended up being there for the taking, but you can't expect to have those kinds of heroics every night. This isn't 2012 any more.
From the game's outset, Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen was bad. There have been games this year where he got bad results that weren't wholly or even mostly his fault. On Tuesday night he was just bad, like three runs allowed in the first inning bad. It wasn't pretty. Oh, sure, Carlos Gomez is good, and there are worse guys to allow to homer than him. But he made about the worst pitch in recorded human history with two men on base - guys who were already there because Chen was not pitching well - and so the ball sailed for three runs.
Looking more like the Chen of recent years, he was not done allowing home runs there. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with giving up a home run to Gomez, but allowing solo shots by former Oriole Mark Reynolds and Khris Davis with a K was not a positive. He looked so bad that even O's manager Buck Showalter, who has stuck by poor-performing starters many a time this season, lifted Chen after only five innings and 76 pitches thrown. In the end, he gave up five runs on seven hits, walking none while striking out six.
While all this was going on, the Orioles were looking lifeless, as they often do, against Tuesday's Brewers starter, Matt Garza, who came into the game with a near-5.00 ERA. You know how this goes. For four innings they did nothing except for strike out a lot. In the fifth inning, with the O's trailing 5-0, Nelson Cruz smashed the goose egg in the Orioles scoring column by hitting a solo home run, his American League-leading 17th of the season. It's ridiculous how good that guy has been. He ended the night with a .632 slugging percentage.
However, there's a reason why Garza had such a high ERA, and it wasn't because of bad luck. Even the Orioles could eventually get to him. They pulled back the deficit to 5-3 in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI double by Nick Markakis and an RBI sacrifice fly by Adam Jones, and with Garza still in the game, they continued to pour it on in the seventh as well. Cruz led off the seventh with a walk and ended up on second thanks to an error by Brewers shortstop Jean Segura. That error let Nick Hundley safely reach base and led to those two men being on when the pitcher's spot came up.
On the bench was the sole survivor of Team Steve following Clevenger's demotion today: Steve Pearce. He was angered by this and looking for vengeance. He selected Garza as the recipient of his wrath. You could see it in his eyes and in the war paint on his face. It was actually eye black, but you know.
First he lashed a ball down the left field line that was just barely foul. This would have been a game-tying double, but that was not enough for Pearce. The at-bat continued, and Pearce sent a line drive laser over the left-field fence just inside the foul pole for a three-run home run, his fourth of the season. This gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead that would hold until the ninth.
New permanent ninth-inning man Zach Britton came on for the third straight night. In the Tommy Hunter days, this would have meant disaster due to too many elevated pitches. On Wednesday night it meant disaster because sometimes the benefit of circumstance is just not on your side. Lyle Overbay, who yet draws breath and paychecks in Major League Baseball, led off with a single. Pinch runner Elian Herrera ended up on third base after a sacrifice bunt from Segura and a groundout from Ryan Braun.
With two outs, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a ground ball towards Manny Machado. This is what Britton does. He gets ground balls. A lot of the time they go towards fielders. The ball rolled along the grass and Machado came towards it. This looked like one of those plays that would go on the highlight reel when he bare-hands it and throws it to first, only instead he gloved the ball and made an off-balance, errant throw. The tying run scored. The game went to extras. This isn't 2013 any more.
As fate would have it, Machado led off the tenth inning by smoking a grounder down the left field line that was fielded nicely by new third baseman Herrera. It could have been a double. Instead it was an out.
In the bottom of the tenth, the doom arrived. It snuck up on the Orioles, who got two outs from McFarland with no drama whatsoever. Then, one spot ahead of the pitcher, Showalter made the curious decision to intentionally walk Reynolds. Is it a good idea, in theory, to put the winning run on base in the form of Reynolds with the pitcher's spot due up? McFarland pitching to Reynolds is a scary prospect, to be sure.
It could have worked out if McFarland had gotten out Gallardo, the pitcher in tomorrow's game. Instead, he gave up a double to left center despite the Orioles outfield being in no doubles defense, despite defensive replacement David Lough having been inserted for Cruz in the ninth inning.
That sucked. This game sucked. Everything sucks.
They'll be at it again tomorrow at 8:10, and they will hopefully not be beaten by Gallardo on consecutive days. Bud Norris, who also pinch hit in this game, though he only sacrifice bunted, is the Orioles starter. Showalter preferred to have Norris come in to bunt a man from first to second with one man down than have Lough or Ryan Flaherty come off the bench and swing away. I need to stop before I rant forever.
Wei-Yin, what did you think about this game?