I woke up this morning thinking about how nice it would be if the Orioles got the sweep against the Nats today. If they could put the drama of last night behind them and just win to get back to .500, it would be a very good day. That's just what they did, and that makes today a very good day. Tyler Wilson got through six innings with just two runs allowed, and the O's offense was fueled by two two-run homers in their comeback victory.
The O's got on the board in the very first inning, taking a 1-0 lead on a Gerardo Parra double and Manny Machado single. With one out Machado tried to steal second and was thrown out, and seriously stop running already Orioles. Steve Pearce walked but was stranded. Nats' starter Tanner Roark gave up a single to J.J. Hardy in the second and walked Manny Machado in the third before the Orioles got on the board again. After Matt Wieters singled, Jonathan Schoop did what we've become accustomed to: hit a bomb to deep center field. It game the O's a 3-0 lead that they'd hold until the unfortunate events of the seventh inning.
Tyler Wilson got the start for the Orioles today, and as far as Tyler Wilson goes, he was wasn't bad. He actually had about as good of a game as you can expect from a guy whose destiny is the bullpen. He scattered three singles and two walks through the first four innings, facing exactly four batters in each. Before he took the mound for the fifth, MASN showed a graphic on the screen that ominously informed us that Wilson's ERA in innings five and beyond is over 10. Gulp.
Wilson immediately looked the part of a pitcher with an over 10 ERA as he allowed the first two runners to reach. Wilson Ramos singled and pinch hitter Trea Turner double to put runners on second and third. He finally got an out on a fly ball from Anthony Rendon, but Ramos tagged up to score, and Turner came in next on a Yunel Escobar single. Just like that the lead was cut to one, and the Nationals had a runner on with just one out. The next batter up was Bryce Harper, and it seemed like a really, really bad idea to let Wilson face him. But there were no pitchers warm in the bullpen (although Mike Wright had jumped up in a hurry), so reluctantly we all watched Wilson pitch to arguably the best player in baseball.
But lo! Sometimes these things work out when you wouldn't expect them. Wilson took Harper to a full count but then Harper hit a ground ball right back to the mound. Wilson pounced on it and threw to J.J. Hardy to start an inning ending double play. Well done, Tyler!
Even with that impressive performance, I expected that Wilson would be pulled after five innings. But Buck Showalter sent him back out for the sixth, and Wilson had his only 1-2-3 inning of the game. Sometimes it's almost like Showalter is smarter than me. Wilson's final pitching line was: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K.
The O's had an exciting top of the seventh that led to exactly zero runs. That turned out to be unfortunate. With one out, Hardy and pinch hitter Christian Walker walked. Both moved up a base on a fly ball out from Parra, which opened up first. Nats manager Matt Williams elected to intentionally walk Manny Machado to get to Chris Davis. Davis is just the major league leaguer in dingers. No biggie. There were no doubt grand salamis dancing in the eyes of every O's fan watching the game, but it wasn't to be. Instead Davis grounded out to end the inning.
With Tyler Wilson out of the game, Buck Showalter called on Chaz Roe to pitch. Roe hasn't been good for awhile now, and that continued. He got the first out, then gave up a game-tying home run to Ramos and walked Matt den Dekker. He was replaced by Mike Wright, who gave up a single to put two runners on for Yunel Escobar. Escobar hit a ball to center field that made you long for Adam Jones out there (or even David Lough). It went over Parra's head as the go-ahead run came in to score. Rendon was also waved in but a slick relay throw from Parra to Schoop to Wieters just got him at the plate (confirmed by review).
Wright wasn't out of trouble yet, and he intentionally walked Harper to get to Jayson Werth. Werth smoked a ball that looked like a double down the left field line, but a fired up Manny Machado made a great catch to end the inning.
The Nationals didn't have much time to enjoy that lead, because the Orioles got it right back in the top of the eighth. With Pearce on first base, the generally disappointing Matt Wieters stepped to the plate. Broadcaster Jim Hunter, ever the optimist, opined that Wieters was due for a home run as he hadn't hit one since September 4th. Frequent viewers of MASN know that "he's due" is a favorite stat of Hunter's.
But then, Wieters did it! Like Schoop a few innings earlier, Wieters hit the ball out to center field, past some celebrating Orioles fans in the outfield seats. I guess he was due after all! And he wasn't finished impressing us, either.
With the lead back in hand, Buck turned to Brad Brach to hold the lead. Things were dicey at first, I won't lie. Clint Robinson hit a ball over the head of Parra (the sooner I don't have to watch him playing CF, the better), putting the tying run on second with no outs. Despite the fact that the runner was already in scoring position, the Nationals decided to bunt. Specifically Ian Desmond. He laid down a bunt right in front of home plate that Wieters jumped on. He fired to third base where Machado slapped down a tag onto Robinson. Yes! Thank you, Ian Desmond!
Brach followed that with a walk to put two runners on, but then struck out Ramos and Tyler Moore to end the inning. Fill-in closer Darren O'Day came in for the ninth, his third straight game. If he was tired, he didn't show it. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, with the final out being on a sweet play by Machado off the bat of Harper.
SWEEEEEEEP! With that the Orioles are back to .500. They travel to Boston where they'll start a three-game series tomorrow night.