The Baltimore Orioles (73-78) took the field at Camden Yards Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox (86-64) with two main things at stake. First, the Red Sox were trying to hold onto a three-game advantage over the New York Yankees with 12 games to go for tops in the American League East. Second, the Birds were hoping to win a game and help the cause to avoid their first losing season since 2011, Buck Showalter’s first full campaign in Charm City.
Drew Pomeranz (16-5, 3.28) had the honors on the bump against Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.83).
Gausman started well, retiring the first six Red Sox he faced. Pomeranz followed suit, yielding a single to Jonathan Schoop, as well as a walk to Mark Trumbo, but no runs in the first frames. Through two, it was scoreless with little action.
After three innings, 33 pitches, and one full trip through the Boston lineup, Gausman was dealing with four strikeouts and zero hits allowed. Unfortunately, the southpaw Pomeranz – who is having a remarkably good season – continued to largely avoid trouble and posted zeros in the run column too. The O’s had a chance in the third with a two-out double by Manny Machado, Schoop followed with a single, but Manny was nailed at the plate to end the inning.
Through four, Gausman continued to be in total control. 44 pitches and 12 Red Sox down in a row. It looked almost effortless he was so smooth and on point. No hitters are worth noting after five innings, so Kevin was three outs from there. Pomeranz matched keeping the game scoreless, but he didn’t look nearly as good doing it. Baltimore hit several balls hard, they just didn’t lead to runs, and they had three hits plus a walk.
In the fifth inning, not even an hour after first pitch – too bad games aren’t always played this fast – Mitch Moreland flew out to Adam Jones, Christian Vazquez grounded out to Tim Beckham, and then Rafael Devers singled off the wall to right field. It was the first ball hit on the nose against Gausman and there was no need for a “no hitter alert.” Next, Sam Travis was called out on strikes to end the frame and Gausman continued rolling.
In the bottom of the fifth, Chris Davis smoked a ball to right center in an effort to get the O’s on the board, but Jackie Bradley, Jr., made an incredible leaping catch up against the wall. It likely would have been a homerun and it’s been that kind of season offensively for Davis. Austin Hays kept Bradley on the move with a double to center and the Orioles had a runner at second with only one out. Caleb Joseph struck out and Tim Beckham grounded out, the inning was over. After five, there was no score.
Gary Thorne correctly noted that it was a “pitcher dominated game” and after six it was still 0-0. Gausman had thrown 79 pitches, with Pomeranz tossing 95. Of note, the Birds threatened in this inning too, but to no avail. Adam Jones reached on a two out walk, Trey Mancini singled and Jones stole third, but Mark Trumbo struck out with the runners on the corners.
Pomeranz was lifted with one out in the bottom of the seventh after getting Chris Davis on a fly ball to left. His final line was 6.1 innings pitched, five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Drew would not get win number 17 against Baltimore, but he pitched very well. RHP Carson Smith entered the game and he retired both Austin Hays and Caleb Joseph on identical looking dropped third strikes. That doesn’t happen every day.
Entering the eighth, no leadoff batter for either team had reached base to start an inning. That changed when Sam Travis singled sharply to right. Rajai Davis came in as a pinch runner and as good as Gausman had looked, Darren O’Day jumped into action in the bullpen. Brock Holt was called out on strikes, number seven on the night for Kevin, and Jackie Bradley, Jr., bounced into a 4-3 double play to end things. Damage averted.
Gausman was through eight scoreless and his night was over. In a word, he was spectacular giving up only three hits, zero runs, walking one and striking out seven. Gausman has looked stronger as August and September have rolled on, which is an encouraging sign with his development and looking ahead to 2018.
Darren O’Day came on for the ninth, his seventh appearance in 2017 against Boston, and was hit with a one out double to right from Andrew Benintendi, but got through the inning with the score still tied.
Craig Kimbrel entered with the task of sitting down the O’s in the bottom of the inning. Leading off, Adam Jones was hit on the right hand with a 98 MPH fastball – the way it looked, it’s surprising a bone didn’t break – and Jones was the O’s first leadoff hitter on in the game. Trey Mancini was out looking after two questionable outside strikes called by the home plate umpire, Mark Trumbo flew out to center, as did Chris Davis. It was the end of nine innings, 0-0.
Brad Brach cruised through the tenth and the Birds didn’t score in their half of the inning. In the 11th, Brach stayed and Brock Holt led off with an infield single. Jackie Bradley, Jr., hit into a fielder’s choice on a great 4-6 play by Jonathan Schoop – he is so good in every aspect of the game – and Benintendi and Mookie Betts walked.
The bases were loaded with Red Sox and there were two outs. Roger McDowell came out for a visit, but it didn’t help. Jackie Bradley, Jr., scored on a wild pitch from Brach and it was 1-0 Boston.
Machado and Schoop popped out in the bottom of the 11th inning. Adam Jones followed with a routine grounder to third – that should have ended the game – and Rafael Devers bounced the throw past Mitch Moreland, allowing Jones to go to second base. The O’s had life and the batter was Trey Mancini. Mancini bounced out to the pitcher and Baltimore was in the loss column.
The only run of an 11-inning game scored on a wild pitch. Baseball is a crazy game.
Notes and Wednesday’s game
Baltimore lost extra-inning games to Boston on Monday and Tuesday.
Trey Mancini entered the game with an eight-game hitting streak. He extended it to nine with an infield single in the sixth inning.
Per stats analyzed on MASN, during 2017 Kevin Gausman is significantly better with an extra day rest, while Dylan Bundy is roughly the same with or without the additional time.
Also per MASN, Bleacher Report ranked the O’s minor league system 25th at the start of 2017. At the end of the season, they rank them 15th.
The last Orioles no-hitter was July 13, 1991, in Oakland. Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson combined in the effort. Before that, August 13, 1969, was the last one, with Jim Palmer going the distance.
Wednesday at 7:05ET, Baltimore plays Boston again. Cy Young Award contender Chris Sale (16-7, 2.86) squares off against Wade Miley (8-13, 5.32).