There will come a day where the Orioles get another poor starting pitching and their offense is not sufficient to the task of overcoming that, and they will lose. That day is not today. The O's salvaged a complete stinker by Ubaldo Jimenez with a flurry of offense, pulling off an 8-7 victory to finish off a sweep of the Mariners. The win is a season-high seventh in a row for the O's.
The O's could hardly have picked out a better time to finally start getting hot. A lot of the games have been tough wins, too. They are up to the task of winning a game where their starter can't finish the third inning and where one of their back-end relievers gives up a game-tying run late. Like early in the season, they are winning even when they're not doing what feels like their best.
Well, OK, some of this game might have been their best. The Orioles had twelve hits, with four of them being home runs. Three of those four homers were solo shots. You know that's how they roll. The O's were actually just 2-5 with RISP in the game. It didn't matter, and it still doesn't. A win is a win.
Going into the game, this was the sort of thing that looked like it favored the Orioles. Seattle starter Ariel Miranda, the former Oriole, is one of the most homer-happy pitchers in all of MLB. He's the exact sort of pitcher they need their offense to destroy, but you never know if they will manage to do it.
The O's struck first against Miranda. Trey Mancini opened up the scoring by crushing a home run into the O's bullpen in the second inning. This was the 23th homer of the season for the rookie. Also in that inning, Chris Davis singled and eventually scored from first base on a two-out double by the star of the game, Welington Castillo.
Having kept the Mariners off the board for the first two innings, could Jimenez keep that going now that the O's had a lead? No! Why would you ever expect otherwise? Jimenez promptly gave up six runs in the inning, and couldn't even finish the third.
Here's the thing. It's not all Jimenez's fault. I mean, it is, in the sense that it's his fault that he allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out, but Jimenez got Nelson Cruz to hit into what was probably the inning-ending double play grounder... except the ball trickled and bounced at the exact perfect angle to ricochet off second base. Two runs scored on the play to tie the game.
Another single by Robinson Cano loaded the bases for a second time. Jimenez picked up a clutch strikeout of Kyle Seager and got an 0-2 count on Mitch Haniger. One more pitch and he would be out of the jam! In true Orioles starter fashion, Jimenez gave up a double to Haniger, scoring two more runs. That was the end of Jimenez's day, with the two runners on base being his responsibility.
Reliever Miguel Castro arrived to save the day, as it seems he has done often during this stretch of winning games. The first batter Castro saw, Mike Zunino, hit a catchable blooper to center field. However, Adam Jones and Tim Beckham were both converging on the ball, neither calling off the other, and eventually the ball dropped.
Two more runs scored. That made it six total against Jimenez, although if you want to be fair, he really only "deserved" two of them. Fair or not, the Orioles were in a 6-2 hole just like that.
When the Orioles offense is firing, though, four runs is something they can easily pull back. That's especially true against a pitcher who came into the game with 31 home runs allowed on the season. With two outs in the fourth inning, the O's struck again.
Mark Trumbo got the rally started with a single. He scored promptly when Castillo launched a home run into the seats in left field. That's not so surprising. It was Castillo's 16th homer of the season. Craig Gentry going back-to-back, though? Now that, you don't see every day. It was Gentry's first MLB homer since April, and suddenly the O's were only down 6-5 after four innings.
Castro pounded out 1-2-3 innings in both the fourth and fifth innings to keep the O's in the game. In the fifth inning, still facing Miranda, Jonathan Schoop went deep for the 30th time this season to tie up the game at six apiece. No, really. That's 30 home runs for Schoop this year. Wow! And so it was a brand new ballgame.
Miranda made it 4.1 innings in the game and ate six earned runs with four home runs allowed. He's now allowed 35 homers on the year and has a 6.16 ERA away from Safeco Field. People who complain about the Orioles making that trade should keep that fact in mind before the next time they want to talk about it.
The Mariners finally got a couple of baserunners against Castro in the sixth inning, turning a double and a walk into a one-out rally. That rally was swiftly snuffed when Mariners #9 hitter Taylor Motter grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The O's didn't let the game stay tied for long. Another Castillo hit and a Gentry walk prompted a pitching change, with new Mariners reliever immediately giving up a single to Tim Beckham to load the bases with one out for Manny Machado.
The O's third baseman smoked a hard line drive directly at the right fielder, deep enough to easily score a seventh O's run. Schoop walked to load the bases again. This led to Mariners reliever David Phelps exiting the game with an apparent injury. The O's couldn't score any more, though.
This did not end up being the last of the game's drama. Though the seventh inning was unexciting, with Richard Bleier and Darren O'Day combining to set down the Mariners in order, the eighth inning was anything but.
The Orioles bullpen formula is well-documented by now. When Zach Britton is thought to be healthy, he gets the ninth inning and Brad Brach gets the eighth inning. It was no different today. Facing Cano and Seager, Brach got two easy outs. Then came Haniger, who burned the Orioles once already, and so he would again, homering for just the ninth time all year.
Don't get beaten by Mitch Haniger! He came into this game on an 0-18 streak. I guess it had to end eventually. The Orioles, fortunately, were not about to get beaten by Haniger, no matter how bad the pitching was at times.
The bottom of the eighth saw Castillo lead off with yet another single, his fourth hit of the day. Gentry dropped a bunt to move Castillo up into scoring position. The O's subbed in Caleb Joseph to run for Castillo. He was nearly doubled off second base the very next batter, as Tim Beckham lined out to the shortstop.
Second base umpire Fieldin Culbreth actually called Joseph out initially even though he was plainly safe even to the naked eye. The Orioles quickly challenged and less than 15 seconds later, the play was overturned. This kind of egregiously and obviously-fixed blown call is why replay exists, for all of its other problems.
The Mariners chose to intentionally walk Machado to have Marc Rzcepczynski come in to pitch to Schoop. Not a bad idea if you're working off of old data. Schoop, before this year, struggled greatly against lefties. Sometimes the past is not prologue. Schoop has a .944 OPS against lefties this year - which Rzcepczynski is.
Schoop grounded a single into center field. When the center fielder, Guillermo Heredia, whiffed on fielding the ball, Joseph scored easily. Third base coach Bobby Dickerson was briefly tempted to send Machado as well before throwing up a late stop sign. Machado ran through the stop sign and was tagged out in the ensuing rundown. How is he so regularly bad at baserunning?
In the end, this did not even matter. Britton came in for the ninth. He got two quick groundouts before allowing a pinch hit single to Jean Segura. Britton struck out Danny Valencia and that was that. Britton had his 13th save of the season and the Orioles had their seventh win in a row.
The O's are now one game back of the second AL wild card spot, pending an 8 o'clock Twins-White Sox result. They are also tied with the Angels, pending a 10 o'clock Angels-Athletics result. They're even just three games back of the Yankees for the first AL wild card spot, pending an in-progress Indians-Yankees result.
Next, the Orioles get to face the last place Blue Jays, against whom they're already 9-3 this year, for four games. They may have already won seven in a row, but now is not the time to let off the gas pedal. Jeremy Hellickson and Marco Estrada are the scheduled starters for Thursday's 7:05 opener.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 30, 2017?
This poll is closed
Welington Castillo (4-4, 3 RBI, got pied by his oldest son)
Jonathan Schoop (2-4, 2 RBI, 30th home run of season)
Miguel Castro (stopped the bleeding with clutch 3.1 innings)