The Orioles are finally back home at in the friendly confines of Camden Yards. After one of the toughest road trips in recent memory, Buck Showalter’s guys were back at Oriole Park on this Friday night to take down the Blue Jays and close in on the Yankees for the top spot in the AL East.
Below, the winning details on what turned out to be a rainy but winning Friday night in Baltimore.
Starter Chris Tillman struggled with his command in the first inning, but he’d work through early struggles and start off the game with two scoreless innings to give the Orioles the opportunity to break out and strike first in the bottom of the second.
Mark Trumbo led off the frame with a sharp leadoff single to right, an at-bat that would be soon followed by a Trey Mancini hit-by-pitch and a Hyun-Soo Kim (yes, he played!) single to load the bases and put Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez in his first jam of the game.
J.J. Hardy would kick off the game’s scoring in the next at-bat, scoring Trumbo from first base on a single that was roped into centerfield.
The lineup flipped over to leadoff man Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones who both ended up with unproductive at-bats and ended the threatening inning, but the lead was 1-0 in favor of Tillman and the Birds nonetheless.
Unfortunately, Tillman’s command issue reared its ugly head yet again in the fourth, an inning that looked unfortunately similar to his first. Following a six-up, six-down stretch in which he appeared to own pinpoint command, the Orioles right-hander seemed to lose any rhythm that he might’ve gathered in a rather abrupt fashion.
After Jose Bautista was hit by an errant curveball to give Toronto its first baserunner in the inning, Tillman lost Kendrys Morales in the next at-bat, walking him to put two on with nobody out. Justin Smoak, the next batter, got ahead in the count 2-1 before slapping a single to left, tying the game at one.
The damage would get worse just an at-bat later, when Tillman left an 88 MPH fastball up and over the heart of the plate to Devon Travis. The Jays’ five-hole hitter cracked a hard-hit double off the scoreboard in right, a hit that led to a pair of go-ahead runs being scored, making it 3-1 Blue Jays in the top of the fourth.
A failed squeeze play kept Travis from scoring and ultimately ended the threat, but the damage was done to put Toronto on the board and derail Tillman’s smooth-sailing effort.
While was a rollercoaster ride to kick off Tillman’s outing, the same couldn’t be said for that of Sanchez. Healthy and poised to continue his brilliance from 2016 (3.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP), the Blue Jays starter was up for the task at Camden Yards on this night.
Using a late-moving two-seamer as his primary pitch, Sanchez utilized the mid-to-upper 90s fastball to keep the Orioles hitters off balance and induced plenty of weak contact through the early innings.
Through five, Sanchez was rolling. But thanks to some sparks in the sixth, fireworks were ignited (both figuratively and literally at OPACY) to get the Orioles right back into the ballgame.
Following a Mark Trumbo leadoff single, the red-hot Welington Castillo absolutely crushed a first-pitch fastball from Sanchez. It went to the opposite field and carried over the right-centerfield wall, good for his second HR of the season and his eighth hit in three games!
Castillo is now carrying an eight-game hitting streak, knocking 17 hits in those games. How’s that for an offseason addition?
With the game tied at three heading into the seventh, it was officially turned over to the bullpen to decide this one’s outcome.
Darren O’Day was the first reliever out of the ‘pen to attempt to make good after the road-trip from down below, but he too struggled with control. The sidewinder would walk two to create a bases-loaded situation, however he was bailed out by a strange rule enforced against Justin Smoak to end the potentially game-changing threat.
On a 2-2 pitch, O’Day got Smoak to strike out swinging, but the ball took a wild ricochet and got beyond Castillo behind the plate. The pitch went to the backstop and the go-ahead run appeared to score while Smoak was safe down at first. But the never-outsmarted Buck Showalter emerged from the dugout and argued with home-plate umpire Jerry Meals that the ball made contact with Smoak’s leg, thus making it dead.
It isn’t a rule that is dusted off too often, but it worked in the Orioles favor after the umpires went to the headsets and overturned the ruling to call Smoak out. There’s a first time for everything — fortunately for Darren O’Day, it kept this one tied up at the seventh-inning stretch.
Baseball has a funny way of sometimes making trends look meaningless, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that both Alec Asher and Brad Brach entered in the eighth and ninth respectively and tossed scoreless innings. As the O’s offense failed to plate the go-ahead run, it was the bullpen on this night that kept the Birds in this it late and provided the lineup opportunities late in the game.
Toronto’s Joe Smith and Ryan Tepera did the same in their eighth and ninth innings, giving fans at OPACY the ultimate gift — free baseball.
The nail biting excitement didn't last long however, as just moments before Mychal Givens wrapped up a scoreless 10th inning, the skies completely opened up in Baltimore. It began to pour at just about 11:00 p.m. ET, officially putting this game in its second rain delay of the night.
Can it be 2017 Orioles baseball without a game taking a strange twist?
At 11:58 p.m. ET, after the tarp was stripped from the field and the weather decided to cooperate, Jason Grilli tossed the first pitch of the bottom of the 10th inning.
At 12:06 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 20th, the Orioles won this baseball game.
On a pitch up in the zone, Welington Castillo crushed another ball, this time one that would make all the difference. With Trumbo on base via a single in his previous at-bat, Castillo launched the hit that mattered most on this night/morning, a two-run walk-off to send the Orioles record to 24-16 on the year.
How’s that for a Friday night at Camden Yards?
Saturday’s game kicks off at 7:35 p.m. ET with Kevin Gausman on the mound.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, May 19th?
This poll is closed
Welington Castillo (2 HRs)
Mark Trumbo (3-5, 3 runs scored)
Chris Tillman (6 IP, 3 ER)