When a garden hose has a kink in it and water stops coming out, that doesn’t mean that the hose is broken. It just means somebody needs to straighten out the kink. For the first three games of the series against the Athletics, the Orioles were a kinked hose. In the series finale, they worked out the kink, at least for now, and runs flowed out in a 9-6 win.
Finally, the Orioles offense did what it was supposed to have done in the first three games of the series against a succession of mediocre Oakland pitchers. Why didn’t they do it sooner? Maybe, as Adam Jones posits, sometimes you suck. There was certainly a lot of that from Monday to Wednesday.
Former Orioles farmhand Andrew Triggs retired ten of the first eleven Orioles batters he faced. It was just enough that you might have started dreading yet another bad game from the O’s hitters. They’d done enough of that in this series. However, in the fourth inning, they finally broke out.
The drought ends at last
Three straight singles, starting with Manny Machado’s turn in the order, drove in the first Orioles run. Pedro Alvarez quickly added two more with a double that scored Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo. Yes, runs! It can be done! This broke a streak of 17 scoreless innings.
Unlike some other games you might recall, the Orioles did not stop scoring in that inning. They were positively electric against A’s reliever Daniel Coulombe. The lefty gave up a single to Jones with one out, with Jones ending up on second base after an error by the left fielder who doubles as a bowl of cereal, Coco Crisp.
Coulombe got his second out by getting Hyun Soo Kim to hit a liner to Crisp. The A’s then decided to intentionally walk Machado in order to bring up the slumping lefty, Davis, to face a lefty pitcher. Not a bad plan, with Davis batting .155 since July 1. Coulombe, however, was a bit too amped up and he ended up walking Davis as well, loading the bases for Trumbo.
A still-wild Coulombe threw three straight balls to Trumbo, which is definitely a bad plan. Trumbo took a strike before Coulombe made the kind of pitch you’re forced to make with a 3-1 count and the bases loaded. Trumbo put an absolute charge into the baseball, blasting it out of the park to straightaway center field for a grand slam.
With that home run, Trumbo’s 32nd of the year, Trumbo regained the MLB lead in home runs. More importantly, he put the Orioles up by a 7-0 score.
By the time you get up to seven runs, you’d think you could coast to the finish line. That’s even more true when you get your starting pitcher, (very) dark horse Cy Young candidate Chris Tillman, giving up just two runs on five hits in seven innings. The only blemish on Tillman’s line for the game was the two-run home run he allowed in the fifth inning to A’s third baseman Ryon Healy, whose name really is spelled Ryon.
Making things interesting, in a bad way
That’s what you’d think if you didn’t reckon on Logan Ondrusek. The first batter Ondrusek saw, second baseman/noir film private detective Max Muncy, hit a home run. Things did not get much better from there. He walked Crisp, temporarily lessened the tension by getting Marcus Semien to ground into a double play, then continued his struggle, walking Stephen Vogt.
Manager Buck Showalter had seen enough of Ondrusek at that point, yanking him from the game in favor of Darren O’Day. The MASN broadcast duo pondered, while O’Day was warming, whether he’d be affected by not having expected to be needed in what was then a blowout.
Perhaps he wasn’t. There was certainly something with O’Day, who was asked to just get the last out of the eighth inning and gave up the inherited run, plus allowed two of his own before finally ending the inning. What was once a blowout was suddenly within Zach Britton save range.
Even Britton made us sweat. A one out walk and a two out single brought the tying run to the plate in the form of pinch hitter Khris Davis. Britton induced the ground ball for which he is famous, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop had to range so far that he couldn’t get an out on the play.
The game actually briefly ended: Shortstop Ryan Flaherty fired to third base after the runner at second was called safe. Brett Eibner ran too far around the base and was called out on a tag initially. This was overturned on replay, bringing the game back from the dead with the go-ahead run now at the plate with two outs.
Mercifully, Britton got former Oriole Danny Valencia to ground out to end the game. Britton remains perfect on save chances for the season and now has 35 saves, leading the American League. Tillman finally picked up his 15th win of the year, tying him for second-most in MLB.
The O’s scored their nine runs on eleven hits. Five O’s had multi-hit games: Jones, Machado, Davis, Trumbo, and Alvarez. Davis now has back-to-back multi-hit games. Hopefully it’s a sign he’s emerging from the doldrums.
The Orioles pulled back a half game on Toronto, who was idle on Thursday. They’ll enter their weekend series against the first place Giants a half game back of the Blue Jays. Dylan Bundy is back on the mound for the 10:15pm Friday opener of the series, with struggling veteran Matt Cain scheduled to pitch for San Francisco.