Tuesday night was a tale of two ballgames in Baltimore. There was the Max Scherzer and Ubaldo Jimenez part of the game (Part One), followed by the post-eighth inning and free baseball part (Part Two). More on Part One later, but Part Two is what ultimately decided the game at Camden Yards.
Ninth inning (Part Two)
Trailing 4-2 to start the ninth, Chris Davis walked off Enny Romero. One on and nobody out. The Nationals have the worst bullpen in baseball, Max Scherzer was out of the game, so there was hope.
Next, Mark Trumbo hit a routine fly to right center, Bryce Harper and the newly called up CF Brian Goodwin collided, and the ball dropped. However, what looked like a great break for the O’s didn’t work out that way. After (rightly) assuming the ball would be caught, Chris Davis was nailed at second base on a force out following the drop.
Trey Mancini flew out, Mark Trumbo advanced to second base on a balk and Jonathan Schoop doubled to right, scoring Trumbo. It was 4-3. The winning run was at second base with two outs. And the batter, once again, was none other than JJ Hardy.
Hardy delivered a single to center, just past the diving Daniel Murphy, tying the game, 4-4. Caleb Joseph struck out to end the inning, but the game was tied and the Nationals bullpen had faltered again.
Free baseball (Part Two)
Logan Verrett came on in the tenth for Baltimore, replacing Mychal Givens. Brian Goodwin singled to right and stole second as SS Trea Turner struck out. DH Jason Werth also struck out and Bryce Harper was intentionally walked.
Two on and two out for 1B Ryan Zimmerman – the hottest hitter in Major League Baseball – the April National League Player of the Month. Verrett got Zimmerman to ground to second and the O’s were out of the top of the tenth.
The Orioles didn’t score in the bottom of the tenth and Verrett pitched a strong eleventh and the O’s had another chance to win the game.
JJ Hardy stroked a two out double to left center off Nationals pitcher Jacob Turner, and now it was up to Caleb Joseph. Joseph was 0-4 on the night, with three strikeouts. He singled to right, but the throw from Bryce Harper, and catch and tag by Matt Wieters, nailed Hardy at the plate.
More free baseball (Part Two)
Verrett started his third inning of work in the twelfth and after giving up a single, the inning ended on a 7-4-3 double play. Those don’t happen every day.
In the bottom of the twelfth, Adam Jones reached on a one out single. “Manny is due,” said Mike Bordick on the MASN broadcast, as Manny Machado came to the plate and delivered a single. Chris Davis was intentionally walked, bringing Mark Trumbo to bat with the bases loaded. Trumbo singled hard down the line to left, winning the game.
The Yankees lost in Cincinnati, 5-3, giving the O’s sole possession of first place in the AL East, and the most wins in baseball with 22. Safe to say, Orioles magic appears to be alive in 2017.
The first eight innings (Part One)
Following their win Monday in the opener of the “Beltway Series,” the O’s (21-11) took the Camden Yards home field Tuesday night for the second time in 2017 against the Washington Nationals (21-10). The Birds were looking for their sixth consecutive victory. It wasn’t easy, but they got it.
After five innings of no-hit baseball, a game gets extra interesting. That’s where things stood tonight after five for Max Scherzer in Baltimore. His line was five innings, eight strikeouts, no hits, no runs and one walk. It was time to start paying attention. Extra attention. And time for the O’s bats to wake up.
O’s starter Ubaldo Jimenez was dealing as well, through five yielding only a single to SS Trea Turner and a solo home run to 2B Daniel Murphy.
Entering the sixth, it was 1-0 Nationals and both pitchers were in command. This was the pitcher’s duel no one expected.
No no-hitter; New ballgame
With one out in the sixth, the O’s made it a new ballgame. Facing Scherzer, Seth Smith blasted a home run to right, his third of the year, tying the game and ending the no-hitter. Amazingly, it was tied 1-1, end of the sixth, Ubaldo Jimenez v. Max Scherzer.
The seventh inning continued the surprises as Jimenez retired the Nats on only seven pitches. He was matching Scherzer inning for inning.
Bad eighth inning
Anthony Rendon started the eighth with a sharp single to right and Matt Wieters blooped a single to left. Two on and no out for LF Chris Heisey and Jimenez got him for his sixth strikeout of the night.
Adam Lind hit next, pinch hitting for CF Michael Taylor, and he launched a bomb to center over the wall – and a leaping Adam Jones – making it 4-1 Nationals.
Why the games are played
On paper, the pitching match-up looked decidedly one-sided. But, that is why people, and not computers, play the games.
Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.66) took the mound for the Nationals against the struggling Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 6.58). Both pitchers were born in 1984, wear number 31 on their jersey, have played for three teams and received big money contracts. But that is where the similarities end. Scherzer is most definitely a top of the rotation starter, while Jimenez has not pitched well for most of the season and is looking to protect his spot in the rotation.
Contrary to what everyone thought would happen, both pitchers performed well.
Jimenez’s final line was 7.2 innings, four runs, five hits, two walks and six strikeouts. Other than the home run to Lind, the only other big mistake Jimenez made was the home run to Daniel Murphy on a 3-1 pitch that barely cleared the right field wall.
As his outings have done many times in recent years, just when you think Jimenez has pitched his way out of the rotation, he delivers something strong. Based on tonight, Jimenez certainly will keep his starting spot. Interestingly, both of his solid starts in 2017 came against National League teams, the Cincinnati Reds a few weeks ago and the Nationals tonight.
On the night, Scherzer gave up solo home runs to Seth Smith and Adam Jones. He ended the evening going eight innings, giving up four hits, two runs, two walks, with eleven strikeouts. It was a solid outing from start to finish and based on the conversations he had with Dusty Baker and Mike Maddux, a game Scherzer wished he could have finished.
Tuesday’s effort from Jimenez, and the three innings from Logan Verrett, gave the bullpen a much needed rest.
After walking DH Jason Werth with two outs, Jimenez was replaced in the eighth by Mychal Givens. Givens struck out Bryce Harper to end the inning. Givens also pitched the ninth and was saved on a great catch at the wall by Trey Mancini to end the inning.
It was announced before the game that Zach Britton will be out the next 45-60 days with continued issues related to his left forearm. While Britton will obviously be missed, the bullpen is a strength for Baltimore. As they have in recent weeks, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day will continue to close games. And in pre-game comments, Buck Showalter also said he’d consider utilizing Donnie Hart and Mychal Givens.
Notes and Wednesday’s Game
With wins Monday and Tuesday over Washington, and over a month into the season, the O’s only series loss in 2017 was at Yankee Stadium April 28-30.
The Orioles are 8-1 in one run games this season.
Adam Jones eighth inning blast was the fourth of his career off Max Scherzer.
Rick Schu, the Nationals hitting coach, played for the Orioles during the 1988 and 1989 seasons at Memorial Stadium.
Wednesday is shaping up to be one of the biggest sports days for DC and Baltimore in recent memory. The O’s and Nationals play at Nationals Park, the Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center in Game 7, and the Washington Wizards square off against the Boston Celtics in a pivotal Game 5. What to watch?
The Orioles will receive the first pitch Wednesday against the Nationals in DC at 7:05pm. Wade Miley (1-1, 2.27) is scheduled to face Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 2.66).
The Rooftop Bar at Hampton Inn and Suites (1265 1st St. SE), just a block from Nationals Park, is a great largely unknown spot for O’s fans to get breathtakingly good views of the city pre or post game during the two-game series.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for May 9?
This poll is closed
Ubaldo Jimenez for pitching 7.2 solid innings?
Mark Trumbo for his game winning single?
JJ Hardy with his 9th inning single making it 4-4?
Logan Verrett for pitching three scoreless innings?