The O’s entered Tuesday’s game in Detroit with four losses in a row, all by one run. Something had to give, right? Since their last win, a week ago at Camden Yards against Washington, the Orioles have been plagued by bad pitching, blown leads and close losses. When Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning was over, Comerica Park had seen a lot of the same things.
The Orioles stayed consistent to their recent play with a mix of good, iffy and bad pitching, as well as a blown lead. And another blown lead. A seven run O’s third inning, Mark Trumbo ninth inning home run, Chris Davis twelfth inning home run, as well as a Chris Davis thirteenth inning home run, made it a night to remember.
The May 16-17, 2017, Oriole game in Detroit is a long and interesting story. Settle in. The ending is worth the wait.
O’s bat around; doubles everywhere
Action for the Birds started in the third inning. JJ Hardy led off with a towering solo home run to left field, his first blast in 95 at bats and this one nearly brought rain. Adam Jones followed with a double, as did Manny Machado, making it 2-1. Mark Trumbo reached with a sharp infield hit, and Chris Davis nailed the third double of the inning, plating Machado.
Jonathan Schoop walked and Tigers starter Matthew Boyd was pitching with one out and the bases loaded. Hot hitting Wellington Castillo, fresh off the disabled list, followed with another single, scoring two runs, and it was 5-1 O’s. Exit Matthew Boyd and enter LHP Chad Bell.
Trey Mancini hit a ball off Bell’s body that bounced into short right field, scoring Schoop and it was 6-1. JJ Hardy followed with another ball off Bell – déjà vu to Wade Miley the other night at Camden Yards – and Hardy had a multi-RBI inning as the O’s batted around.
Joey Rickard came up again and he lined out softly to second, ending an inning where the O’s right fielder made two of the three outs. After two and a half innings, it was 7-1 Orioles.
Major bullpen issues for the Orioles
Mychal Givens replaced Wade Miley with two on in the sixth and protected the O’s 7-4 advantage (more to follow regarding the first shrinking lead, and the second shrinking lead). In the seventh, Givens walked 1B Miguel Cabrera and DH Victor Martinez. Buck Showalter got on the phone to the bullpen. Givens threw a wild pitch and then walked LF Justin Upton. Mychal Givens walked the bases loaded.
Brad Brach entered his first game since last Wednesday, when he had issues at Nationals Park. The issues continued in a big way. On a 3-1 pitch, J.D. Martinez greeted him with a grand slam, smoking it to right center field, and a 7-1 Baltimore lead, that had leaked to 7-4, was now an 8-7 deficit.
The O’s bullpen, supposedly a strength of the team on paper, has been terrible lately. Just in the last week, they’ve blown multiple leads against the Nationals, Royals and now the Tigers. The poor bullpen efforts, combined with mediocre to bad starting pitching, is reason to be worried and not a recipe for success.
Darren O’Day pitched the eighth, retiring the Tigers in order and looked good. So, there’s that. But, the bullpen issues for Baltimore were just beginning.
“Trumbo Jumbo” in the ninth
Besides the third inning, the first big blow for the O’s came in the ninth. With two outs, a home run by Mark Trumbo tied the game at eight. The shot came off Tigers left handed closer Justin Wilson and Mark Trumbo has five home runs on the season, with every one coming with two outs. In a cool scene, the ball was caught by an orange jersey clad O’s fan in the first rows of right field.
In the bottom of the ninth, versatile Alec Asher entered for Baltimore. Victor Martinez singled to right and was pinch ran for at first base by Dixon (not Manny) Machado. Justin Upton popped out and J.D. Martinez hit into a double play to end the inning. Time for free baseball.
Free baseball (10, 11)
The O’s went in order in the top of the tenth. Asher stayed on for his second inning of work and surrendered only a harmless James McCann single to center. Adam Jones had a two out single in the top of the eleventh and Manny Machado delivered an infield hit putting runners on first and second.
Could Trumbo deliver again with two outs? The answer was no as Trumbo hit into a force out ending the top of the eleventh.
With one out in the bottom of the inning, Asher hit Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Or did he? Replay gave first base to Cabrera, Showalter lost the challenge, but O’s radio announcers were skeptical. Alex Avila, now the DH, hit a ground rule double to left, placing runners on second and third.
LF Justin Upton struck out and there were two outs. The O’s walked J.D. Martinez, loading the bases, and brought in left handed Donnie Hart to face left handed Tyler Collins. The math was on Showalter’s side. Collins, in his third at bat of the night, he originally pinch hit in the seventh, flew out to right fielder Seth Smith. Baltimore escaped the eleventh inning.
More free baseball (12); Possible game winner; More bullpen issues
Chris Davis led off the top of the twelfth inning with a home run to left center into the O’s bullpen. It was the second big blow of the night and the third straight game with a Davis home run. The O’s had the lead back at 9-8.
Wellington Castillo reached on an error, Trey Mancini singled, and JJ Hardy got a run home with a fielder’s choice, his third RBI of the night. Following a Seth Smith single, Adam Jones singled and it was 11-8 Orioles.
Donnie Hart stayed on to try and close the game, gave up a run, and with 2B Ian Kinsler on first base and one out, 3B Austin Romine singled bringing the winning run to the plate in the name of Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera singled, scoring Kinsler, and it was – yes, you guessed it – a one run game, 11-10.
Alex Avila, with runners on first and second, singled, scoring Romine, and the game was tied. The O’s had just blown another lead, this one was 11-8, now it was 11-11. Richard Bleier replaced Hart – Bleier was the last Oriole pitcher available – retired Detroit, and it was on to the lucky thirteenth.
More free baseball (13); Game winner!
Trumbo led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch, and Chris Davis hit his second home run – an absolute bomb to right center – in as many innings. It was the third big O’s blow of the night and the second by Davis. As improbable as it was, the O’s were ahead 13-11.
Richard Bleier, since he was the only one left – they didn’t want to have to pitch Ryan Flaherty – stayed on for the bottom of the inning and secured his first major league win.
Battle of southpaws
Over five hours before it ended, and on Tuesday, not on Wednesday, Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd started the game against Wade Miley. Both are left handed and struggle with their command. Entering the game, Miley had walked 23 in 36.2 innings pitched, Boyd 19 in 39.1 innings. These trends continued Tuesday.
Miley has pitched fairly well during 2017, but has lived dangerously with walks, bad fastball command and high pitch counts. In the bottom of the first inning, Miley immediately found trouble. 2B Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera singled and Victor Martinez grounded out to Chris Davis allowing a run to score.
Wellington Castillo saved several wild pitches with stellar defense behind the plate, Justin Upton walked, J.D. Martinez took a free pass to load the bases, and pitching coach Roger McDowell came out for a visit. Miley was approaching 30 pitches in the first and had already walked two. With two outs, CF Mikie Mahtook (he’s from Lafayette, Louisiana, and attended LSU) lined the ball to right center and Joey Rickard made a great diving catch, likely saving three runs.
After one inning, Wade Miley did not look on his game.
Trouble continued in the bottom of the third when Miley walked Miguel Cabrera and gave up a two-run home run to Victor Martinez. J.D. Martinez homered on an opposite field line drive to right and Mikie Mahtook doubled. Miley made it through the third with no additional damage, but the O’s inability to hold comfortable leads continued (and was just starting for this game) as a 7-1 lead turned to 7-4.
In the fourth, Miley was looking for his first clean inning and he got it with three up and three down. The fifth saw a two out walk by Miley, he almost picked J.D. Martinez off first base, and Mahtook grounded out ending the inning. Miley had 102 pitches through five innings.
With a rested bullpen following the off day, Miley surprisingly came out for the sixth and gave up a single to James McCann. McCann is hitting below the Mendoza Line, but has seven home runs in 2017 in less than 90 at bats. Light hitting SS Jose “Iggy” Iglesias – who defected from Cuba into Canada in 2008 – singled to left and Miley’s night was over.
It was a very Wade Miley outing. He gave the O’s a chance to win, didn’t overly tax the bullpen, and suffered from two “should have been double plays” that weren’t in the first and third innings. He also threw a lot of pitches and struggled with his command. “Meh” would be a good description. Not bad, but generally uninspiring and unexceptional.
Miley’s final line was five plus innings, four runs, eight hits, four walks and three strikeouts. He gave up two home runs and threw 109 pitches.
Matthew Boyd, who came to Detroit in the summer of 2015 as part of the David Price deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, is a distant relative of Hall of Famer Bob Feller. Tuesday, he did not pitch like Bob Feller going 2.1 innings, yielding seven runs, all earned, on eight hits, with two walks and one strikeout.
Chad Bell replaced Boyd and pitched well – the Tigers have the worst pitching in the American League – going four innings and leaving in the seventh, giving up no runs and three hits, with three strikeouts and one walk. Little did anyone know, the night had a long way to go after Boyd and Bell left the game.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
Joey Rickard, pinch hit for in the eighth inning by Seth Smith, was the only Oriole starter to not reach base Tuesday night in Detroit.
Twenty hits on the night was a season high for Baltimore.
Tuesday was Wellington Castillo’s first game back after a stint on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis. He singled in the second inning and is hitting .329 on the season.
With a third inning double, Adam Jones extended his hitting streak to five games. Later, he notched his tenth multi-hit game of the season.
Chris Davis four-game hitting streak entering Tuesday and extended it to five with a third inning double. He also was the only left handed Oriole in the starting lineup.
The Orioles 2017 record in extra innings is 6-1.
The Orioles play next at 7:10pm on Wednesday in Comerica Park against the Detroit Tigers. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 6.15) is slated to face Michael Fulmer (4-1, 2.54).
Who was the Most Birdland Player for May 16?
This poll is closed
Chris Davis with two extra inning home runs?
Mark Trumbo for his home run in the ninth?
Wellington Castillo with three hits and two RBI?
Richard Bleier for his first MLB win?