This one could've ended very differently. The Orioles were out-hit by the Marlins, 14 to 11. They trailed 3-0 in the 5th inning. Then in the 6th they were up by two but with Marlins runners on second and third with no outs. But they held on for the win and won in Miami to open the three-game series. As a cherry on top, rookie Tyler Wilson got his first major-league win.
Ubaldo Jimenez took the mound tonight and was immediately victimized by the slap-hitting Marlins. Dee Gordon singled to lead things off and after Marcell Ozuna popped out, stole second base with Giancarlo Stanton at the plate. Then, a few pitches later, he stole third base. Stanton ripped a single into left field and the Marlins led 1-0. In the bottom of the 2nd, more balls fell in for hits. Three straight singles put the Marlins up 2-0. With runners on second and third and one out, Ozuna bounced a ball to Jimmy Paredes at second base. Instead of taking the sure out at first base, Paredes threw home to try to nail the speedy Adeiny Hechavarria, who was going on contact. The run scored and it was 3-0 Marlins. Jimenez ended the inning at an astonishing 47 pitches, which was all the more interesting because he hadn't walked anyone. He pitched through the third inning without incident.
Meanwhile, the Orioles were making some noise but were struggling to break through. Their best shot came in the fourth, when with one out Chris Davis slammed a Henderson Alvarez pitch to deep center field. It would've been a three-run jack in Camden Yards, but the outfield at Marlins Park is enormous and the ball was caught easily. Travis Snider walked to load the bases with two outs, bringing fans to their seats, but J.J. Hardy flew out to center to end the threat.
That was just a taste of things to come, though. In the top of the 5th inning the Orioles led off with back-to-back singles by the scuffling Alejandro de Aza and Caleb Joseph. Buck pinch-hit for Jimenez, whose spot was up and was at 87 pitches, with Delmon Young. It proved to be a great move as Young doubled off the center field wall, scoring de Aza and cutting the Marlins' lead to 3-1. Manny Machado followed with an RBI groundout that scored Joseph and all of sudden it was 3-2.
The big breakthrough came in the sixth. Davis and Snider led off with back-to-back walks to put a runner in scoring position. Hardy, up next, made a decent bunt right back to the pitch. Alvarez whirled and threw to Martin Prado at third base, trying to nail the lead runner, but the throw floated and skipped into the left field foul territory. Davis motored home easily with the tying run, Snider stood at third, and Hardy stood on first base in a brand new 3-3 game.
That's when things got interesting: newly-minted Miami manager Dan Jennings opted to walk de Aza to load the bases with one out and then brought in demoted closer Steve Cishek to pitch. Both decisions were questionable: why walk de Aza in that situation and why bring in a pitcher with a 7+ ERA in such a high-leverage spot? If Cishek isn't good enough to handle a three-run lead in the 9th, why is he good enough to bring into a bases-loaded, nobody-out, tie-game jam?
The decision looked even more foolish when Caleb Joseph smacked a solid liner into center field, scoring Snider and Hardy and giving the Orioles a 5-3 lead. Tyler Wilson, who'd been brought in to replace Jimenez, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move up the remaining runners. Manny Machado followed with a huge whiff, but Jimmy Paredes hit a ball just hard enough that when it deflected off Cishek's glove, it skipped far enough away that everyone was safe. de Aza scored to make it 6-3 Orioles.
The 6th inning remained tense in the bottom half. Wilson was making his second major-league appearance and had done well in the 5th. But Hechavarria led off with a single, and pinch-hitter Michael Morse led off with an opposite-field double that scored the speedy shortstop, making it 6-4 Orioles. After Dee Gordon also singled, Buck brought in Tommy Hunter to face the right-handed trio of Ozuna, Stanton, and Prado.
Things looked bleak: runners at the corners, nobody out, and the Orioles two-run lead seeming slimmer by the minute. The situation got worse when Gordon stole his fourth base of the night, putting him in scoring position also. A single would tie the game. But Tommy "I Refuse to go Boom" Hunter pitched his heart out. He struck out Ozuna and got Stanton to pop out to first base. Prado hit a ground ball to the left side; it looked like Hardy would get it, but Manny swooped in and fired to first to make the third out.
The Orioles didn't do much in the top of the 7th, and Hunter pitched well enough in the bottom half, although he was helped out by a TOOTBLAN from first baseman Justin Bour. In the top of the 8th, de Aza led off with a walk and Joseph singled him to third. Then the two managers played the switchy-switchy game: Buck pinch hit for Hunter with Steave Pearce because lefty Brad Hand was on the mound, but Jennings countered with righty Sam Dyson. Pearce bounced a grounder to Prado, who spun and threw home in time for catcher J.T. Realmuto to tag a running de Aza. But never fear, because Machado stepped up and smacked a double down the left field line, scoring both runners and making it 8-4 Orioles.
Brad Brach pitched the bottom of the 8th and was effective, but got into a little trouble in the bottom of the 9th. Martin Prado grounded out, but Bour hit a solo shot over the left-center fence to make it 8-5. Realmuto popped out, and the ageless Ichiro Suzuki tapped a ball to the third-base side. Brach lunged for it and fired to first but the throw bounced in the dirt underneath Davis' glove and Suzuki made it to second. Buck brought in Zach Britton, now in line for a save, who induced a grounder from Hechavarria and nailed him at first base with a perfect throw to end it.
The win is a rare Friday night victory for the Orioles and moves them to 19-20 on the season while the Marlins drop to 16-27. They have still to win a game under the helm of Dan Jennings.
Now for the important stuff: It's Friday night and the Orioles just won a come-from-behind game on the road. YOU KNOW WHAT MUST BE DONE.