Tuesday marked the first game at Camden Yards since long-time radio voice Fred Manfra retired Sunday. Things sounded different on the radio.
The O’s took the field with Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.92) facing Ivan Nova (5-4, 2.92) and the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first of a two-game series. Gausman, who got the win in his last start Wednesday against the Yankees, was looking to continue righting the ship after a very shaky start to the season. It was the right hander’s first career appearance against the Bucs.
In the end, it took ten innings and Gausman didn’t figure in the decision, but the O’s bats delivered in dramatic fashion.
Early action; Pitcher’s duel develops
Seth Smith got things started in style with a leadoff home run, his sixth of the year, to straight away center field. It was a bomb, estimated at 419 feet, and the third leadoff shot for the O’s in 2017.
Trouble started in the second for Baltimore with a single by 3B David Freese, DH Josh Bell reached on an error, the latter allowing Freese to go to third on a bad throw by Manny Machado. Runners were on first and third with no outs. CF Andrew McCutchen followed with a single to right and it was 1-1. Later in the inning, 1B John Jaso doubled, making it 2-1 Pittsburgh, and SS Jordy Mercer grounded out scoring another run. The trend of rocky early innings during starts for Gausman continued.
After the tough second, and a 3-1 deficit, Gausman looked good in the third enticing Freese to hit into a double play ending the inning. In the fourth, Gausman struck out Bell and McCutchen, retiring the side in order. Jordy Mercer doubled to left with one out in the fifth, but he was stranded at first and Gausman had three strong innings in a row and 82 pitches for the night.
For his part, Ivan Nova was exceptionally sharp except for the home run to Seth Smith and a first inning bunt single by Adam Jones. Through five innings, Nova had thrown 70 pitches and only given up two hits.
Pirates pad the lead; Gausman exits
After the good three inning run, Gausman gave up a home run to David Freese, the eleventh he’s allowed on the season, and it was 4-1. Andrew McCutchen followed Freese with a blast to center that was hauled in by a leaping Adam Jones up against the center field wall. There is a reason Jones is a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and it was on display Tuesday night.
Gausman entered the seventh inning having thrown 98 pitches and gave up a full count single to John Jaso. Jaso was promptly thrown out trying to steal second on a perfect throw by Caleb Joseph and tag from Jonathan Schoop. The defense came up big again on a classic short hop grab by Manny Machado, followed by a perfect throw to Chris Davis to retire Francisco Cervelli. Jordy Mercer singled to center with two outs and it was curtains for Kevin Gausman. He was replaced by Donnie Hart who got out of the inning after a few anxious moments following a hit batter and a walk.
Gausman wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good either. Asi asi is a phase taught in high school Spanish that would be an accurate description of the outing. Unfortunately for fans of the O’s, he has not taken the steps forward seen in Dylan Bundy to be a consistent top of the rotation starter. On the night, Gausman went 6.2 innings, giving up eight hits and four runs, striking out five and walking one.
O’s wake up; back-to-back HR’s
Chris Davis homered onto the flag court in right field to lead off the seventh as Ivan Nova showed he was human. Jonathan Schoop followed with a shot to left, high and barely inside the foul pole, and just like that the O’s trailed 4-3 and Nova was heading for the showers. Per Gary Thorne on the MASN broadcast, it was the fourth time in 2017 Baltimore has went back-to-back, and amazingly, every time involved Schoop.
With two outs, Caleb Joseph singled to center, Joey Rickard pinch hit for Seth Smith, and Rickard struck out swinging. The O’s had trimmed the lead, but not come all the way back.
Mychal Givens pitched the top of the eighth and he struck out David “We’ll see you tomorrow night!” Freese, McCutchen and Jaso. Former Washington National – Felipe Rivero, part of the Mark Melancon deal in 2016 – sent Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo back to the bench.
Darren O’Day got two outs in the ninth and then walked LF Adam Frazier after being ahead in the count 0-2, followed by a run scoring triple, just out of the reach of Adam Jones, to 2B Josh Harrison. It was 5-3 Pittsburgh heading to the bottom of the ninth and things didn’t look good.
Bloop and a blast and the game is tied
Chris Davis led off the ninth with a single to right. Davis is 2-2 lifetime against Pirates left handed closer Tony Watson. It was a great at bat. With Davis at first, Jonathan Schoop hit his second home run of the night – a majestic blast to center – to tie the game at five. The proverbial “bloop and a blast” actually happened. Both Gausman and Nova would now get no decisions, and after 53 outs, it was a brand-new ballgame.
Free Baseball; Base running makes a difference
O’s temporary closer Brad Brach pitched a scoreless top of the tenth and Adam Jones singled to left with one out in the bottom of the inning. Next, Manny Machado hit a ball to left field that was as close as humanly possible to leaving the park without leaving the park. Instead, it was an out. Smartly, on the Machado fly, Jones tagged up from first to second to be in scoring position. This made a difference. A big difference.
Mark Trumbo followed with a sharp single to center, scoring Adam Jones from second, and the O’s had a comeback win behind four home runs, smart base running and good work from their bullpen. Baltimore is 30-26 on the season.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
No Oriole in Tuesday’s starting lineup is hitting .300 or higher.
Manny Machado continues to struggle as he went 0-5 on the night and is hitting just .214 this season.
The homer by Chris Davis in the seventh inning was number 13 for him this year.
26,724 was the paid attendance at Tuesday’s game.
This was the Pittsburgh Pirates first trip to Camden Yards since 2014.
Retired former Pirate, and Maryland resident, AJ Burnett attended the game.
O’s bench coach John Russell managed the Pirates from 2008-10, compiling a record of 186-299.
Baltimore lost to Pittsburgh, each time in seven games, in the 1971 and 1979 World Series.
The O’s travel to PNC Park in Pittsburgh – a great place to see a game – on September 26 and 27.
Wednesday at 7:05pm the Orioles play the Pirates again at Camden Yards. Wade Miley (2-3, 2.82) is slated to face Chad Kuhl (1-5, 6.02).
Who was the Most Birdland player for June 6?
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Jonathan Schoop for his two home runs.
Adam Jones for good defense and smart base running.
Mark Trumbo and his game winning 10th inning single.