Hope is never lost for the Orioles to have a chance to win a game. As we've seen over the last several days, they are always capable of rallying to overcome a bad start from their pitcher.
In Sunday's series finale against the Yankees, they did not follow the formula of this week. It was the offense that struggled for most of the game, being shut out headed into the eighth inning, with the so-called three-headed monster lurking.
The Orioles don't care. They pulled off an unlikely rally against Aroldis Chapman, loading the bases and emptying them on one awesome hit. A clutch pinch hit by Matt Wieters turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead, which held as Zach Britton retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the ninth.
What was different about this game is that the Orioles finally got a good effort from their own starting pitcher. Kevin Gausman scattered seven hits and two walks over six innings. The lone run he gave up crossed in the third inning - Jacoby Ellsbury got a one out single, moved up on a wild pitch and then a groundout, and finally scored on an Alex Rodriguez base hit.
No run support for Gausman, again
Why do the Orioles hate scoring runs when Gausman pitches? That is one of life's great mysteries. The human mind craves answers, seeking ever to bring order to a chaotic world.
It is even more of a mystery than usual today, because the Orioles offense was unable to capitalize on an outlandishly wild CC Sabathia. The Yankees starter pitched only five innings and managed to walk six batters while in the game. Sheesh. He gave up only two hits, though. How does that happen? Very carefully, it seems.
Sabathia's fifth and final inning was representative of his day. Backup catcher Francisco Peña beat out an infield single to start the inning. Number nine hitter Paul Janish tried, and failed, to bunt, ended up in an 0-2 count, then got hit by pitch.
Something was cooking there - and this with Sabathia's pitch count elevating. He had yet to pass 100 pitches on the year and more often has thrown 90 or fewer. Yet the Orioles couldn't capitalize.
Adam Jones flew out harmlessly on the first pitch. Joey Rickard hit a double play ball that he only beat out with his speed. Sabathia seemed to pitch around Manny Machado, walking on four pitches to load the bases, but Mark Trumbo then struck out on four pitches and that was that.
Before long it was the seventh inning and that means time for Dellin Betances to pitch, the first of the three heads out in that bullpen. Or at least that's how it is ordinarily. However, you may recall that Andrew Miller was needed for two innings last night, pressed into that heavy load because Betances himself had pitched in three of the prior four games.
What that meant was that Yankees manager Joe Girardi leaned on Betances to try to get two innings out of him in this game. Betances was not up to the task of a second inning. Trumbo led off the eighth inning with a walk. Chris Davis snuck a single up the middle, putting the tying run at second base with none out.
Birdland delayed is still Birdland
While all of this was going on, a ferocious-looking bank of clouds was blowing towards, and over, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Yankees stalled desperately as if they would be saved by the rain and the game called off without their having to actually finish nine innings.
After Betances struck out Nolan Reimold, the rains did come. The game, already over three hours old at that point despite being a 1-0 contest, went into a rain delay.
The Yankees did not get their wish of the rain washing away the game. After about an hour and a half, the game resumed with Chapman on the mound, looking to notch five outs starting with Jonathan Schoop, who is lately in a mode where he swings every time, forever. He struck out on four pitches, representing the second out.
That brought up Peña, whose father, Yankees first base coach Tony Peña, watched on from the Yankees dugout. Who would expect Peña to do anything against a guy who throws 100 in this situation? But Peña came up swinging at the first pitch he saw and lasered a line drive into right field.
O's third base coach Bobby Dickerson threw up one of his rare stop signs as Trumbo rounded third base. Right fielder Aaron Hicks bobbled the ball as he played the bounce. The throw home was not caught cleanly by catcher Brian McCann, either, but Trumbo had stopped and wasn't able to start back up again.
If you were watching this play live, you probably yelled something inappropriate. This was the first Orioles hit with runners in scoring position in the game and it couldn't even score a run. What it did was load the bases for Wieters, entering as a pinch hitter for Ryan Flaherty.
In almost the blink of an eye, the count was 0-2 on Wieters. Instead of swing and miss at the 0-2 pitch like you may have expected, Wieters went down and got a ball to drive on the ground up the middle. Trumbo and Davis scored easily on the play, and as the throw in from center field sailed on Ellsbury, Peña was able to race home as well.
Just like that, the Orioles were on top. That was the first blown save of the year for Chapman. Too bad, so sad.
Next up for the Orioles is a series against those Satan-kissed children of the Midwest, the Royals. Mike Wright is the starter for the O's despite the fact that no one other than Wright wants him to be starting the game. Danny Duffy is listed as the Royals starter for the 7:05 game.