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Orioles outlast King Felix, win 2-1 in extra innings on Chris Davis home run

It took ten innings for the Orioles to beat the Mariners on Friday night, but they did it, and the GIFs flowed. They outlasted Seattle starter Felix Hernandez and won in the tenth, 2-1, thanks to a Chris Davis home run.

Mitchell Layton

In the top of the first inning of Friday night's game, Adam Jones stole a base. He was safe. The umpire called him out, though video replays showed his foot barely beat the tag. Orioles manager Buck Showalter declined to use a challenge on the play, saving it for another, bigger play. Three hours later, Showalter used his challenge to end the game in the tenth inning, on a play where Robinson Cano was ruled safe at first on the field. The central umpire headquarters said otherwise. The game was over, with the Orioles winning 2-1 over the Mariners in a most unusual fashion.

Many things happened to get us to that point, some of which were awesome, some of which were frustrating, as baseball tends to be. The game started out with the Mariners under the aegis of ace pitcher Felix Hernandez, who has allowed less than one baserunner per inning this season. We joke about how the Orioles beat good pitchers and look terrible against crappy ones, but some pitchers are so, so good they are exceptions to this rule.

Hernandez is such a pitcher. The Orioles were as helpless as most against his arsenal, striking out ten times in seven innings. They only got five hits against him and did not walk. Fortunately, one of the hits was the kind of thing they specialize in, a Nelson Cruz home run in the second inning that was the very definition of a frozen rope. Cruz ripped a laser that barely cleared the left field fence and nearly obliterated the beer cups of a couple who stood in the front row. The Orioles were on the board.

Matched up against one of the game's greatest pitchers was the Orioles' Kevin Gausman, in whom we have pinned many hopes and dreams. Gausman did not exactly match Hernandez pitch for pitch, given that he only struck out three and walked number nine hitter Brad Miller, he of the .603 OPS, three separate times. He did what he needed to do, though, working out of jams, minimizing damage, getting things done without careening into disaster territory.

A lesser pitcher, the likes of which we often saw starting games in the lean years, might have melted down as soon as trouble struck, which it did from the very first inning. Leadoff hitter Endy Chavez reached in the first inning on a cheapo grounder. Cano dumped in a single that barely cleared the infield in the air. BABIP was not on his side in this inning, but he held tough.

Gausman cruised along until the fifth. He was good. He was also lucky, benefiting from the kind of fluke play you seldom see. After the second time he walked Miller, Chavez got himself an infield single. That's what the box score says. You know those plays where the grounder goes to the right side and the runner heading from first leaps over the ball on the way to second? Yeah, that's what happened, except the ball hit Miller's toe. He was out. That's too bad.

Chavez stole second, getting his way into scoring position with two men down. James Jones singled to left field, not very deep at all. Seattle's third base coach inexplicably sent Chavez even though left fielder Steve Pearce was charging in on the ball and had all the momentum. If it's not the worst send in baseball history, it's close. I have probably said that at least a dozen times before, but I really mean it this time.

It was so bad, you can't even imagine how bad if you didn't see it. Chavez was out by so much that catcher Caleb Joseph took two steps forward from home plate to step out and meet him. Thanks for the free out. And I thought Bobby Dickerson was bad sometimes. This was worse than anything Dickerson has ever done.

Seattle struck in the sixth inning, because even a terrible offense will strike eventually, most of the time. Cano led off the inning with a triple to right. Crack MASN camerawork made it look like the ball was landing 20 rows deep into the seats, but as it turned out, it came down just shy of the wall towards the right field line. Nick Markakis ran a long way to get to the ball and only just slightly overran it. That was not an expected outcome. After the play was over, Markakis fulfilled his yearly quota of one display of emotion, visibly frustrated with himself for being unable to make the catch. Sorry if you missed it.

So, Cano was on third, and any kind of deep fly ball or grounder could score him. Newly re-acquired Kendrys Morales hit a line drive right at Markakis, who was pretty deep in right. Cano took off for home and Markakis surprised again by throwing the ball on the fly to home plate. The throw had such force that it beat Cano to the plate, but it was high, so Joseph was not able to jump to catch it and then get down again to tag him out. That tied the score at 1-1.

Gausman was lifted with two outs in the seventh inning, not long after his third walk to Miller. Showalter summoned Brian Matusz to face Jones, a lefty. That's a good theory. Seattle pinch hit Stefen Romero, a righty. That's not so good for the Orioles. Romero flew out harmlessly to left, though.

Tempting fate, Showalter left in Matusz for the eighth. In fairness, Seattle had a lefty-heavy lineup, but also in fairness, he's looked terrible recently. In fact, he looked pretty terrible tonight, giving up a laser of a double to Kyle Seager, and hanging approximately a billion sliders to the next batter, Dustin Ackley. There's no logical reason for why Matusz was able to strike out Ackley despite never throwing a slider below the belt in an eight-pitch at-bat. The strikeout pitch was so terrible that Ackley swung under it.

Well, it worked, somehow. Matusz stranded the two runners in the seventh and then retired the next four batters he faced.

The game went on into extra innings, where that part of me that predicted a Jesus Montero walkoff every other inning in that 18 inning game two years ago awoke from slumber. Never mind that Montero was optioned to the minors to make room for Morales, I still feared him.

Before that could happen, Seattle started the tenth with a lefty, Charlie Furbush, who has one job, and that is getting out lefties. They had a .569 OPS against him and he hadn't allowed a home run in 54 at-bats. I use the past tense because Chris Davis walloped a pitch to right field to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Davis triumphantly trotted around the bases after his 17th home run. Furbush departed the game in shame.

In the bottom of the inning, Zach Britton awaited. You don't have to worry about him, except, of course, for when you do. But the great Britton made an appearance tonight, the whole dang commonwealth, really. Even when he looked like he messed up, taking forever to field a two-out grounder from Cano, throwing a ball that appeared in real time to pull Davis off the bag, it turned out that, on replay, Davis kept his toe on the bag for just long enough to make it an official out.

The teams milled around for a couple of minutes, waiting for New York to rule on the play. The umpires on the field signaled out and the game was over just like that. Anticlimactic wins still count. So do wins where they only have six hits the whole night.

The Yankees and the Rays both won, but that also meant the Blue Jays and the Red Sox both lost. The Orioles held the line tonight, keeping a three-game lead over New York as they improved to 57-45. They're now guaranteed at least a 5-5 split in this west coast road trip, and there's still two games to play. That will do. Now keep on winning.

Saturday afternoon at 4 o'clock Eastern, the series continues. Bud Norris starts for the O's against the 35-year-old righty Chris Young for Seattle.