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Walk-off passed ball propels Orioles to an extra innings win

For most of the game things were looking dire for the Orioles. Then all of the sudden they weren't.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Orioles played a game tonight that could have gone very, very wrong. They weren't able to get to R.A. Dickey after the first inning and Ubaldo Jimenez was in trouble for five straight innings. The bullpen blew a one-run lead late and the teams had to go into extra innings. But it all worked out in the end when the Orioles scored on a passed ball of all things. It wasn't the sexiest win we've seen, but they all look the same in the standings.

The Trials and Tribulations of Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez only gave up two runs tonight, which isn't bad! But he only lasted five innings, which isn't good. In truth, this was the most painful starting pitching performances that I've seen all year. Maybe ever. OK, probably not ever considering what those mid-00's teams looked like.

You know how when Ubaldo is off his game he can't find the strikezone? There was a whole lot of that tonight. In five innings, Ubaldo went to a three-ball count against ten batters. In four of those instances, he started the at-bat by throwing two strikes! Once he went to a three-ball count to Josh Thole, whose sole baseball value is that he is capable of catching a knuckleball.

All told, Jimenez gave up five hits and four walks in five innings. He was in trouble every single inning and even the at-bats that resulted in outs were pretty miserable to watch. He threw 104 pitches in just five innings. The Blue Jays have to feel pretty bad about not being able to break open the game against him.

It looked like the Orioles were going to fall behind in the top of the first inning when Michael Saunders singled to start the game and two batters later Jose Bautista singled to left field. Saunders went to third on the play and Joey Rickard made a wild throw that went past Machado at the base. Thankfully Jimenez was backing him up. Not so thankfully he seemed to forget about Bautista, who ended up on second base.

With runners on second and third and just one out, Edwin Encarnacion smoked a line drive directly at Jimenez, who managed to catch it and double up the runner at third.

The Jays first run came in the third inning, when Machado misplayed a ball at third base. Michael Saunders was on second base (he reached via walk, natch) and he came in to play as the ball hit off of Manny's glove and trickled into left field.

The O's held a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning when Jimenez started Josh Donaldson 0-2, then threw three straight balls, then gave up a home run off of the roof of the groundskeeper's shed in right field. He managed to get the next three batters to end his night. It couldn't come soon enough.

Dickey Bounces Back

In the first inning of this game, it looked like the Orioles were going to completely destroy R.A. Dickey. The first four batters reached base against him, starting with a single by Joey Rickard. Rickard flew home on Manny Machado's sixth double of the year. Adam Jones walked (I know!) and Chris Davis knocked in another run with a long single off of the top of the right field scoreboard.

Suddenly the O's had runners on first and third with no one out and two runs in. But Mark Trumbo grounded into a double play that scored a run but took the wind out of the team's sails. J.J. Hardy struck out to end the inning. It was a frustrating way to end things, but still! Three runs in an inning is pretty good, and it looked like they had Dickey's number.

Yeah, about that. While Jimenez was laboring through every inning, Dickey started to cruise. He pitched 1-2-3 innings in the second and third innings, then walked Chris Davis to start the third. But before the Orioles could even think of getting anything started, Trumbo grounded into another double play. Hardy doubled but was stranded at second by Jonathan Schoop.

The Orioles just couldn't get anything going. After a 1-2-3 fifth, Machado blooped a single to start the sixth. He was immediately erased on another double play, this one by Adam Jones.

Finally after six innings Dickey was finished. It had to be a sigh of relief for the O's batters. But could they get to the Blue Jays bullpen?

Battle of the Bullpens

Brad Brach took over for Jimenez to start the sixth inning, holding onto a slim 3-2 lead. Brach didn't look his sharpest, pitching a scoreless sixth despite allowing a single and a walk. He didn't have the same luck in the seventh. With one out and Saunders on third, Bautista hit a fly ball into the right-center gap. It looked like it would fall in but then out of nowhere Adam Jones made a fantastic diving catch for the second out.

Saunders looked like he was tagging up, but when the ball looked like it would fall in he came off of third. He had to go back to third after the great catch was made and couldn't score. That looked like a huge play for about three seconds until Encarnacion doubled to left field to knock in Saunders and tie the game.

Once the game was tied and Dickey out, the Blue Jays brought in Gavin Floyd from the bullpen. That guy is still around, apparently. He pitched two shutout innings against the O's as they continued to fail at the plate. They upped their futility rate in the ninth inning when an infield single by Mark Trumbo was erased when pinch runner Nolan Reimold was easily thrown out stealing. Just stop running, Orioles! For crying out loud.

A Walk-Off Win Cures All

Despite all of the offensive ineptitude, despite the pitching being very shaky, the Orioles finally pulled through in the 10th inning. The game was still tied going into the bottom of the ninth and pitcher Joe Biagini easily retired both Schoop and Pedro Alvarez. The brought number nine batter Caleb Joseph to the plate, who had gone hitless on the day. Joseph had a great at-bat that ended with a double in to the right-center gap.

The legend of Joey Rickard would dictate that he got the walk-off hit, but it wasn't meant to be. Instead Rickard got an infield hit to put runners on the corners to bring up Machado. There's no one else I'd rather have at the plate in that situation, but with an open base they pitched around him to get to Adam Jones. In the eighth inning and a runner on second they intentionally walked Manny and Jones grounded out, so they were hoping to recreate that scenario.

Again, Jones didn't come through, but it wasn't entirely his fault. Biagini threw a breaking pitch and it appeared that Josh Thole wasn't ready for it. It skipped past him and Joseph raced in from third with the winning run.

O's win! It wasn't the most dramatic walk off in history, but it'll do.

Tomorrow the Orioles will go for the series win with Chris Tillman on the mound against Marco Estrada.