It took the Orioles four-and-a-half hours, but they won a baseball game tonight. They overcame another rough start by Ubaldo Jimenez and a seven-inning stretch with just two baserunners to finally prevail in the 13th inning on a walk-off hit from, who else, Chris Davis.
The Troubles With Ubaldo
Ubaldo Jimenez was not what you call pitch efficient tonight, nor did he seem to have very good command. He got through the first two innings without allowing a hit, but he did walk one in the first and hit a batter in the second. He sort of fell apart in the third, though. With Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia on base with two outs via singles, Jimenez walked David Ortiz and Travis Shaw back-to-back to force in a run. He got the last out without allowing another run and was momentarily off the hook when the Orioles came back in the bottom of the third inning with four runs.
Jimenez pitched a really nice 1-2-3 fourth inning making me think, "Hey, maybe he's settled down!" He had not, and relinquished the lead back to the Red Sox in the fifth inning. Three straight hits to start the inning made the score 4-2. He finally got an out after that, but it was a sacrifice fly to David Ortiz that made the score 4-3. The sac fly wasn't hit all that deep, but Adam Jones's shoulder is clearly still bothering him as he didn't even think about throwing it home. Get well soon, Adam!
With two outs and a runner on second, I had hopes that he'd close the door, but he did not. Pablo Sandoval hit a ball down the left field line that knocked in the tying run, but Pearce made a nice throw to nail the Panda trying to stretch a double (after review). That was the end of the day for Ubaldo, whose final pitch line was 5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K.
The O's Big Inning
Like Jimenez, Red Sox starter Joe Kelly started the game with two scoreless innings. But things went from good to terrible for Kelly in a matter of minutes. J.J. Hardy, who has been abysmal at the plate this year, singled to start the inning. Yay, J.J.! Following him was Steve Pearce, who gave the O's a 2-1 lead on his 11th home run of the year.
Gerardo Parra followed Pearce's dong with a single, but was wiped out on a fielder's choice by Manny Machado. Machado came in to score on a single by Chris Davis and a throwing error by Mookie Betts.
After Adam Jones singled to put runners on first and third, Kelly was visited by the Red Sox trainers and taken out of the game. That's bad news for a guy who had been pitching well since returning from the minors earlier this year. Best of luck to Joe Kelly, who despite being on the Red Sox is a player that I like, possibly because he has four eyes.
Craig Breslow relieved Kelly and gave up a sacrifice fly to Matt Wieters to make the score 4-1 before Jonathan Schoop struck out to end the inning.
Extra Innings - Brian Matusz's Gift to You
With the scored tied 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth, Manny Machado untied it in a hurry. His 29th home run of the year landed in the Eutaw Street seats and was caught by an adorable young man in the front row with his glove. The MASN camera guys kept going back to this kid between innings, but I didn't mind. He was so happy to be at the game and to have that ball. He spent the night dancing and I loved him.
Mychal Givens pitched 1 2/3 good innings before turning the ball over to Brian Matusz when David Ortiz stepped up to bat. Matusz is much maligned around these parts, but one thing he has always been able to do in his career is shut down David Ortiz. He did so again tonight, giving Ortiz a lovely 3-for-28 mark against him over his career.
Going into the eighth inning, I was starting to feel good despite the fact that it was only a one-run lead. I love the back end of the Orioles bullpen, and it was getting to be about that time. That's my bad, y'all.
Matusz came back out to start the eighth inning, and even in retrospect, even knowing how frustrating Matusz is, I don't have an issue with that decision. Matusz has held lefties to a .152 batting average this season, and while Darren O'Day is awesome, lefties hit him better than righties, and better than they do Matusz.
Unfortunately, the moved backfired as Shaw hit a game-tying home run, causing Orioles fans to once again curse Matsuz's name. It wasn't a cheapie shot, either. Neither team was able to score in regulation, which means free baseball! Except it's not really that exciting, because some of us have work tomorrow.
Finally, They Prevailed
The Orioles bullpen did a fantastic job in extra innings tonight, holding the Red Sox scoreless for four innings. Zach Britton was his usual filthy self, Brad Brach continued to be one of the most underrated relievers in baseball, and even Chaz Roe pitched a scoreless inning. The Orioles hitters kept failing at the plate, and the pitchers kept throwing up zeroes.
After seven straight innings in which the Orioles managed just one hit and one walk, the hitters got their act together. Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Aro, who was pitching in his third inning, was clearly pooped. He walked Parra and went 2-0 on Machado before he laced a single that put runners on the corners. Aro was pulled from the game for Robbie Ross, but he was no match for Chris Davis. Davis hit a ball in the air over the drawn in infield to knock in Parra. O's win! O's win!
The win gives the Orioles their third consecutive series win and brings them within two games of .500. They'll go for the sweep tomorrow night with Mike Wright on the mound against Henry Owens.