The Orioles faced the tough task tonight of facing Chris Sale, but like the ace they faced yesterday in New York, they hit him harder than expected. Unfortunately they were unable to capitalize on their 10 hits in five innings, wasting chance after chance. But a pinch hitting appearance by Chris Davis with two runners on in the bottom of the ninth bailed out the rest of the lineup, his 13th home run giving the Orioles the walk-off win.
Sale, who is normally the kind of pitcher who strikes fear into all opposing teams, was not himself tonight from inning one. After Steve Pearce worked a walk (just Sale's 11th walk in 66 innings this season), Adam Jones hit a ball towards the bullpens that bounced off the wall and over the fence to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Delmon Young singled later in the inning and was stranded, but the Orioles forced Sale to throw 24 pitches and looked prime to strike.
In another Orioles recap, this is where I'd tell you that the O's offense knocked around a pitcher in the first inning, but then went quiet after that, allowing the pitcher to dominate. Well, that didn't happen. The Orioles had baserunners in every one of Sale's six innings pitched, but couldn't knock a single one in. Their biggest choke jobs came in the fourth inning, when they loaded the bases with one out and couldn't score, and in the fifth inning, when they loaded the bases with no outs and couldn't score. In the fourth, the normally clutch Pearce couldn't hit a ball deep enough to the score a sacrifice fly, then Jones struck out. And in the fifth, Manny Machado grounded into a force out that cut down the runner at home, followed by a double play ball off the bat of Jonathan Schoop. It was infuriating.
Luckily for you, me, and the Orioles, they came back to win the game. So instead of me having writing 500 words about their incompetence, you only have to read one paragraph.
Wei-Yin Chen wasn't terrible tonight, though he had one of those games that can be hard to watch because of the long at bats he allowed. Through the first five innings he gave up just one run on a ground out by Jose Abreu, but he had a lot of trouble putting the White Sox batters away. He walked two batters in the first inning and even in his 1-2-3 second we had to suffer through an eight-pitch at bat and a 12-pitch at bat. He started the sixth inning with 80 pitches, clinging to a one-run lead that should have been a four or five-run lead. Jose Abreu greeted him with a game-tying home run, which was pretty unsurprising. Abreu hitting a homer off of Chen seemed like an inevitability. Doubles by Dayan Viciedo and Conor Gillespie gave the White Sox the lead and drove Chen from the game after 5 2/3 innings. Ryan Webb came in to get the final out of the sixth, and even though Chen wasn't that sharp, I felt bad for him. He really shouldn't have had to leave with the O's losing, but his offense let him down.
The White Sox added a fourth run in the seventh inning when Abreu (of course) doubled in Tyler Flowers. Man, that Abreu guy is pretty good. He'd look nice in the Orioles lineup.
The suddenly hot Caleb Joseph brought the Orioles back to within one run in the eighth inning with his second home run of the year and third hit of the game. It felt like too little, too late, but that's because I tend to expect the worst.
After the recently promoted Brad Brach pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth innings, facing just six batters, the Orioles needed to score at least one run off of White Sox closer Ronald Belesario to keep the game going. The good thing about that is that he's really not been very good this year. The Orioles got two quick baserunners after Pearce singled and Jones was hit by a pitch. Nelson Cruz struck out, and Buck Showalter made the decision to pinch hit for Delmon Young with Chris Davis. It might have seemed like a curious choice; Davis has been scuffling and was being given a day off, and Young had already gotten three hits on the night. But those hits were off of a lefty, and Young is considerably better against them. Davis worked the count full before hitting what looked like a vintage (as in, 2013) home run to right field. The small crowd went wild and the Orioles went from giving a win away to taking it back, just like that.
With the Yankees losing to the first-place Blue Jays tonight, the Orioles now have sole possession of second place in the A.L. East. They remain 1 1/2 games behind Toronto but are now a game ahead of the Yankees. They will hopefully be able to get closer to first place tomorrow with Miguel Gonzalez on the mound against Jose Quintana for the White Sox.