The Orioles bats finally broke out tonight as they scored seven runs in support of Kevin Gausman, who lasted six innings despite clearly not having his best stuff. It turned out that all the O's bat needed to get back in action was some NL pitching, as they scored more than four runs for only the third time since the All-Star break.
Gausman was shaky throughout the entire game, but as Caleb Joseph said in his postgame interview with Gary Thorne and Mike Bordick, he threw just enough good fastballs to stay out of major damage. In his six innings pitched he didn't have a single 1-2-3 inning and gave up a total of eight hits and two walks. Gausman gave up back-to-back two-out singles in the first inning, but struck out Ian Desmond to strand the runners. But the Nationals got on the board first in the second inning on a solo home run from Wilson Ramos.
The Orioles had a good chance to score in the top of the second, when Chris Davis walked and J.J. Hardy singled with one out, but Davis had a major TOOTBLAN, being doubled off of second base easily after Ryan Flaherty flew out to center field. Oh, Chris. You make me so sad.
It was a nice night at the plate for Joseph, and he tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third inning. He hit a solo home run, his 5th, to left field. It was a no doubter, and I have to ask: Is there any player on the Orioles more fun to see succeed than Caleb Joseph?
Gausman really played with fire in both the third and fourth innings as the the Nationals put runners on first and third with no outs in each. But in each inning, Gausman limited the damage to just one run. In the third he gave up a sacrifice fly and in the fourth he allowed a run to score on a double play ball.
The way the Orioles have been scoring runs lately, a 3-1 deficit felt less like two runs and more like 10. But they got one back on a home run by Nick Markakis in the fifth inning, then broke out for three in the seventh to go ahead for good.
The Nationals started Tanner Roark tonight and the word on the street is that he's a good pitcher. He looked ok early on, but by the time he was knocked out of the game, I didn't see what the fuss was about. Back-to-back doubles by Hardy and Flaherty (Flarht's was THIS close to being a homer) tied the game, and after Joseph moved Flaherty to third with a bunt, pinch hitter Delmon Young singled up the middle. That made the score 4-3, but the Orioles weren't finished. Ross Detwiler replaced Roark but wasn't much better. Both Markakis and Manny Machado singled to load the bases.
Adam Jones then stepped to the plate, the 7th batter of the inning. Adam to that point had been 0-for-August, but it ended with an RBI single. The O's looked ready to really break out as they still had the bases loaded with just one out, but the Debbie Downer we know as Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Those runs put Gausman in line to get a win, though he struggled for it. While he didn't give up any more runs after the fourth inning, he did allow a single in the fifth inning and two more baserunners in the sixth. He was pinch hit for by Young in the top of the seventh inning and replaced on the mound by Brad Brach in the bottom of the inning. His final pitching line was: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 107 pitches/60 strikes. He battled, as they say.
Brach was outstanding in relief, pitching two perfect innings with two strikeouts. His reward was getting to bat for himself in the top of the ninth, and he gave the ball a ride to center field, but sadly it was an easy out for Denard Span. Brach has really been a pleasant surprise this season, don't you think?
The O's last two runs came in the eighth inning on a two-RBI single by Joseph. He knocked in Davis, who had singled just through the shift in right field, and Hardy, who was on base with his fourth hit of the day.
Though Brach had just batted for himself, Darren O'Day still came in to pitch the ninth. He was awesome, as usual. He retired all three batters he faced on a total of nine pitches, and he struck out Danny Espinosa swinging to end the game.
O's win! They gain 1/2 game on the idle Blue Jays and will head into Toronto with a four-game lead in the American League East.