Through the first four innings today it looked like the Orioles were going to have themselves an easy, run-of-the-mill win. Chen was pitching a decent, but not great, game. The Orioles were scoring enough runs to win, but not going crazy. It was a lazy win for a lazy Sunday, a pleasant enough way to end the weekend. Then came the bottom of the fifth, which was one of those insane innings that you can't believe you're watching even as you are. When the dust finally cleared the Orioles were winning by 13 runs, a lead they obviously held onto. If they had blown it, this recap would have begun in a very different way.
So let's talk about that fifth inning, in which the Orioles scored nine runs. In 106 of their 115 games played coming into today, they scored less than nine runs in the entire game. They had 10 hits in the inning, including seven singles, two doubles, and one home run by Adam Jones. It all sounds very impressive, and it was. But just then when I said they hit two doubles? Well, that's what the official scorer called back-to-back hits by Manny Machado and Gerardo Parra, but it was really more like the Bad News Bears out there, with outfielders falling all over each other. Check out Manny's "double" and Parra's "double." It's so nice having a good defense, isn't it?
That inning definitely reminded me of the dark days of Orioles baseball, back when I knew the Orioles were going to lose more than they won. My only hope was that my team wouldn't embarrass me as they were losing. Well, the Athletics in that inning went from regular old losers to an embarrassment.
Let's get back to the Orioles before I get bummed from putting myself in the shoes of A's fans, OK? The Orioles may have scored nine runs in the fifth inning, but they also scored another nine runs innings in other parts of the game. Altogether they had 26 hits, which ties the Orioles franchise record for most hits in a game. It also is the most hits that the Oakland A's have allowed in their history. It's a lot of hits, y'all. Leading the way was newbie Gerardo Parra, who had five hits, including his second home run in as many days. Behind him was today's DH, Steve Clevenger. The soon-to-be-returned-to-Norfolk player had four hits with one double.
Adam Jones had three hits, two of which were home runs. Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado and Caleb Joseph also had three hits apiece, with Joseph hitting his 11th home run of the year. Here is a live look-in at Caleb's son:
Even singlin' Hank Urrutia got into the action with two hits and three RBI, and made this sweet catch in the seventh inning to rob a homer from former Oriole Danny Valencia.
In fact, only one starter today didn't get a hit. I mean, do I even have to say it? You know who it is. J.J. Hardy is making me so sad lately. The less said about him today, the better.
As for Wei-Yin Chen, he ultimately pitched six innings with two runs allowed, which isn't bad at all. It started out looking like a rough day for him as he threw over 20 pitches in the first inning and stranded two runners. He was victim of some rare bad defense in the second inning as a pop up was missed by Chris Davis as he, Parra, and Schoop all converged. David called the ball despite being at an awkward angle and then it fell just out of his grasp. It was also ruled a double (Jim Henneman was really following the letter of the law today), so when the runner came in to score on a legit double by Sam Fuld, it was earned. The miscue in the field cost Chen a run as well as eight additional pitches in the inning. It lead to a tie game, which at the time was worrisome. That worry didn't last long.
Chen's second earned run came on a home run by Brett Lawrie in the fourth inning, back when the A's were kind of still in the game. His overall pitching line was 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K. He threw 117 pitches on a hot Baltimore day, so good for him.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of today's game, with the Orioles up by a whopping 16 runs, the A's called on position player Ike Davis to pitch in the game. That's an unusual and fun sight that we get to see a handful of times each year across the majors. But the really awesome thing about it was that as Buck Showalter pulled his regulars to give them a rest in the late innings, he moved the DH, Clevenger, to first base. That meant that rookie pitcher Jason Garcia got an at-bat. Yes, folks, we got to see a position player pitching to a relief pitcher! I love baseball.
And you know what's even better than a position player pitching to a relief pitcher? When said position player walks that relief pitcher on four pitches! Yes. That is a thing that happened. Garcia also happened to pitch two scoreless innings in addition to his triumphant walk at the plate, so it was a good day for the kid.
Tomorrow the Orioles will go for the four-game sweep of the A's with Chris Tillman facing ace Sonny Gray. It's probably a good thing they wrapped up wins in the first three games, because that one is going to be a tough one.