Saturday’s game looked like a bad one for the Orioles on paper. Kevin Gausman, who has struggled on the road and never seems to get run support even when he pitches well, was pitching against Madison Bumgarner, who entered the game with a 2.20 ERA this season and almost single-handedly won the Giants the World Series two years ago.
These were all bad signs for the Orioles and they all proved to be good reasons to worry about the game. The Orioles did nothing good against Bumgarner. Gausman struggled with command and, while he could have done a lot worse, was nowhere near good, either. The O’s lost the game, 6-2, falling back to half a game behind the Blue Jays in the AL East.
Realistically, there’s no shame in being beaten by Bumgarner. The guy is probably the best pitcher in the National League this year, now that Clayton Kershaw has been on the shelf for so long.
That’s not to say you just have to tip your cap to Bumgarner, because tipping caps is for losers. The Orioles should always expect to win. I’m just saying that losing to Bumgarner is different than losing to some jabroni like Ross Detwiler or Zach Neal.
The less said about the Orioles offense against Bumgarner, the better. The good news there is that there’s really nothing much to say about it. In the seven innings Bumgarner was in the game, the Orioles got three hits and three walks. That’s a fat lot of nothing.
Their most promising chance to score came in the sixth inning. The inning began with Adam Jones attempting to bunt. Jones bunted the ball off of himself while he was still in the batter’s box, which should be a foul, but this play was screwed up and called a live ball and this still didn’t get overturned on a crew chief review. That’s annoying. Jones might have still made an out even if he continued the at-bat anyway.
With one out, J.J. Hardy drew a walk. A Manny Machado double moved him up to third base and set the Orioles up with two men in scoring position with one out. Mark Trumbo fouled out before Jonathan Schoop, of all people, drew a walk to load the bases. Chris Davis struck out and that was that.
Also, the less said about Gausman, the better. Unfortunately, there is a lot to say about him. Gausman only pitched four innings in this game, mostly because, although he struck out nine batters, Gausman also walked six guys while he was in the game. How do you even walk six guys in four innings if your name isn’t Ubaldo Jimenez?
As wild as Gausman was, his night could have been a lot worse. The Giants only scored two runs off of Gausman, and only one of those runs was scored by someone who reached base on a walk. Hunter Pence led off the second inning with a walk. Joe Panik doubled him to third base. Both of those fellows scored when Denard Span singled up the middle to drive them in.
The Orioles offense being what it was in the game, the two runs nearly proved to be enough for the Giants to win on their own.
A remarkably similar sequence played out in the sixth inning, with Vance Worley pitching for the O’s. Worley walked Eduardo Nunez, who ended up on third after Panik hit another double. Worley retired Bumgarner before Span drove in another two runs with another single, though Span was thrown out trying to advance on the play.
If you’re thinking that a game the Orioles were losing by four runs with little hope of getting anything going sounds like the perfect time to get Jimenez into the game, you’re absolutely right.
Jimenez walked Angel Pagan, the very first batter he saw. Pagan stole second, then Brandon Belt hit a home run and Jimenez issued another walk to Brandon Posey all before recording an out. The Orioles trailed 6-0 thanks to Jimenez.
In the ninth inning, the Orioles offense finally got on the board, drawing out a rally with two outs. Davis got things started with a walk. The Giants changed pitchers to get a lefty against pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez, so the O’s countered by pinch hitting Matt Wieters for Alvarez, with the switch-hitting Wieters able to bat right-handed.
The Dread Pirate Roberts, watching this scenario play out, proclaimed, “Truly, they have a dizzying intellect.”
Wieters kept the rally going with an infield single (really!) against the ageless Javier Lopez. Nolan Reimold walked to load the bases. Ryan Flaherty, pinch hitting for Jimenez, delivered a two run single to break up the shutout.
Is it a moral victory that the Giants were forced to use their closer, Santiago Casilla, to get the final out? No. There are no moral victories here. Casilla threw all of one pitch to Jones, who bounced into a fielder’s choice.
At least Michael Phelps got that last gold medal. Hopefully you were watching that instead. You would probably have been happier watching that than watching the Orioles.
The O’s have a chance to win the series, and escape the road trip with a 5-5 record, if they can win the finale starting at 4:05 on Sunday afternoon. Wade Miley is starting for the O’s against Johnny Cueto, so, good luck with that. They’re going to need it.