The Orioles came into Friday night’s game having not won on a Friday since June 2. They found many, many ways to lose. Against the Angels in Camden Yards, they looked like they were finding another way to lose, trailing for the whole game until it ended with one mighty swing. Manny Machado crushed a ninth inning grand slam to send everyone home happy, giving the Orioles a 9-7 win.
This was a wild game from the beginning. After a warm and humid summer day that was capped off by a thunderstorm that delayed the start of the game by about 40 minutes, the atmosphere was perfect for one of those home run-filled Camden Yards games.
Sure enough, it was. The two teams combined to hit ten home runs, with five apiece. The last one sent them all home, an absolute bomb to deep center field, Machado adding his own little contribution to the fireworks that were set to go off not long after the game. With Darren O’Day having already pitched in the game, closer Zach Britton went out and caught the home run ball on the fly. It was awesome.
Since it was a game where the Orioles trailed for the entire thing, I could spend a lot of time talking about the bad stuff if I really wanted. After all, Orioles starter Jeremy Hellickson set a new career high with home runs allowed. He served up all five Angels home runs, including four in the first two innings.
It was rough to watch and really not something that should have been surprising when the O’s traded for a guy with a near-5.00 ERA in the NL who is a known fly ball, homer-prone pitcher. That’s Hellickson. He gave up seven runs in 4.2 innings, getting the hook in the game after Mike Trout hit a two-run home run off of him in the fifth inning.
That wasn’t fun, but you know what? For tonight at least, all’s well that ends well. Enjoy tonight. Worry about the problems tomorrow. This night, think about the fact that Adam Jones went rogue to deliver a shaving cream pie to Machado’s face during Machado’s post-game interview. He earned it!
While you’re in a good mood, think about what it has to be like to be Anthony Santander tonight. The Orioles Rule 5 pick has been something of an invisible man this year before now, spending the whole season either recovering out of sight in Sarasota or, more recently, rehabbing for Bowie and Frederick.
Finally, the Orioles could hide him no longer and they had to activate Santander. By a twist of fate, his first game came on a night where both Chris Davis and Welington Castillo were sick and unable to play, so into the lineup went the 22-year-old who spent last year playing in the Carolina League. That’s a long way from MLB.
Santander got to make a nice sliding catch to end an inning, and between his own excitement and also slippery ground from the earlier rain, he stumbled while trying to get back up and dove for a second time. It was hilarious and great. Also, who knew corner outfielders were allowed to show any speed?
At the plate, the switch-hitting Santander started out 0-3 with a pair of strikeouts. And then, again, as fate would have it, it was Santander who led off the ninth inning. The rookie got a quick swing on a slider and ripped the pitch into right field for his first ever MLB hit.
After a Caleb Joseph strikeout, pinch hitter Seth Smith walked. The tying run was on base and the go-ahead run was at the plate just like that. Santander nearly came around to try to score on a Tim Beckham single that snuck into right field. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson held up Santander, since his run wasn’t important.
And then there he stood, on third base, when Machado blasted a pitch far into the muggy Baltimore night. A walkoff win! So it’s Santander’s first day in the big leagues and there he is right in the middle of the walkoff celebration. He earned his place there. He got the rally started! Fantastic.
Machado’s grand slam was his third home run of the game. He had a solo home run, a two-run home run, and the grand slam in the game. That was a career high seven runs driven in for Machado. He now has 26 home runs for the season, tied with Jonathan Schoop for the team lead.
Mark Trumbo and Caleb Joseph each hit solo shots in the game as well. That was the 19th of the year for Trumbo and Joseph’s 8th of the season. Every one of the 16 runs in the game scored as a result of a home run.
With the Angels getting the first four home runs, you had to wonder at least a little bit if it was going to be one of those nights where Orioles hitters didn’t get the memo that it’s perfect home run conditions at Camden Yards. Trumbo’s home run in the second inning, followed by Joseph’s third inning homer and a two-run Machado blast, answered that one. They got the memo.
After Hellickson left the game in the fifth inning, three Orioles relievers combined to keep the Angels off the board the rest of the way. Miguel Castro pitched 2.1 scoreless, with Richard Bleier contributing two-thirds of an inning and O’Day throwing 1.1. They kept the O’s in the game. That’s all you can ask.
O’Day’s scoreless ninth saw him let a couple of runners on base, but two Angels runners tried to steal second base and were thrown out by Joseph. That, too, was huge. A larger deficit would have been tougher to overcome. It’s good having a catcher who can throw.
With the win, the Orioles have pulled themselves back within two games of the second wild card spot in the AL. The Angels and Twins are currently tied for that second spot. The Orioles must also pass the Mariners, Royals, and Rangers to claim that spot for themselves.
Can they do it? If they want to keep hitting five home runs a game, probably. If they want to keep giving up five home runs a game, probably not.
The O’s will try to make it two in a row against the Angels with a 7:05 game on Saturday. The O’s will send Kevin Gausman to the mound, with the Angels countering with J.C. Ramirez.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 18, 2017?
This poll is closed
Manny Machado (WALKOFF GRAND SLAM!!!! and two other homers)
Anthony Santander (First MLB hit, nice diving catch)
Caleb Joseph (homer, two runners thrown out)