A baseball game was played at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday night. For twelve innings, nobody told the Orioles offense - or, for that matter, the Blue Jays offense. The two teams took a scoreless tie into the 13th inning, combining to go 0-24 with runners in scoring position, before finally, mercifully, Jonathan Schoop ended it all with a walkoff double.
Schoop collected his 101st RBI of the season with the walkoff as his BFF Manny Machado, who led off the bottom of the 13th inning with a single, motored all the way around from first base to score the game-ending run. For his trouble, Schoop received a post-game pie to the face. Maybe the crucial thing is that Machado was on first base: They scored the run without getting him into scoring position.
With the win, as crazy and agonizing as it was to watch for most of the game, the Orioles have gained back the game they lost to both the Twins and the Yankees with Thursday’s loss. They are once again 1.5 games back of the second wild card spot and 2.5 games back of the first wild card spot. The Orioles have 27 games still to play.
We should all be happy that the Orioles won this game, but holy crap, they surely didn’t deserve to win it. Deserve, of course, has nothing to do with it. Still, the sheer number of opportunities that they blew in the game are staggering, as is the amount of time where they were actually just completely dormant. The O’s ended up with nine hits. Machado had four of them. It was a struggle for everyone else.
The Orioles blew a chance with men on first and third in the first inning with no one down. They blew a chance with men on first and second and no one down in the third inning. This against Blue Jays starter Joe Biagini, who entered the game with a 5.40 ERA. This is not the guy against whom the Orioles offense should get worked.
They did get worked. The Orioles offense was awful for seven innings. After a Schoop third inning single, Biagini went on to retire the next 15 Orioles batters he faced. Across seven innings pitched, he held the Orioles to just five hits and a walk, while striking out ten O’s hitters. It was painful to watch.
Luckily for the Orioles, Kevin Gausman was up to the challenge to putting zeroes on the scoreboard. Though Gausman only pitched six innings, he also held his opponents to five hits and a walk. From there, it became a battle of the bullpens.
Brad Brach pitched two innings, giving up only a walk. Zach Britton pitched two innings, giving up only one hit. Miguel Castro added two innings of one hit ball as well, surviving a leadoff double in the 12th. That got the O’s to the 13th inning, when they summoned Jimmy Yacabonis from the bullpen. Yacabonis pitched a scoreless inning and then the O’s got the walkoff win in the bottom of the inning to give Yacabonis his first MLB win.
Put a pin in two big O’s defensive plays that absolutely saved the game. The first came in the ninth inning. Kevin Pillar led off the inning with a double off of Britton. He ended up on third base after Jose Bautista grounded out. Darwin Barney followed with a ground ball to second base. Schoop had both the presence of mind and arm strength to throw home on the play.
Pillar was tagged out easily, not that this was sufficient to stave off a futile Jays manager challenge. Schoop saved the game, full stop. Pillar was most of the Jays offense in the way that Machado was for the Orioles. He had three of their seven hits.
The other big game-saver belonged to Trey Mancini. The 13th inning was not exactly smooth sailing for Yacabonis. The O’s rookie walked bad haircut Josh Donaldson with one out. Donaldson advanced to scoring position on a grounder, bringing up former Oriole Steve Pearce. We’ve seen how this story ends at least once this year, in the game where Matt Wieters beat the O’s with a late hit.
It looked like Pearce had done the same off the bat. He ripped a pitch into left field that seemed to be soaring away from Mancini. The O’s left fielder dug hard, blew out a big breath, and got full extension on his 6’4” frame as he leaped for a ball that was diving away from him. Mancini came away with the catch. The game, once again, was saved, and this time, the O’s were able to win it in the bottom half.
The walkoff hit was enabled by Machado leading off the inning with an infield single that the inferior-fielding Donaldson was unable to collect at third base. Jays reliever Aaron Loup then left a fat pitch hanging for Schoop, who rocketed it into the right-center gap. The ball got all the way to the fence and Machado scored. Cue the Gatorade bath, the water bottle spray, and eventually, the pie to the face.
A win is a win is a win. In the end, the blown scoring chances don’t matter. The fact that they skated through some dicey situations doesn’t matter. Adam Jones getting ejected from the dugout by an inexplicably ornery home plate umpire in the first inning doesn’t matter, either. The Orioles won their 69th game of the season. They don’t have to give it back.
The Orioles can’t rest on their laurels after this win. There aren’t any laurels to rest on yet. There’s still ground to make up. They’ll try to make up more on Saturday night as the series against the Jays continues. Wade Miley and Marcus Stroman are the scheduled starters for the game. Let’s hope the Orioles didn’t use up all their luck tonight. They’re going to need it.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 1, 2017?
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Manny Machado (four hits, game-winning run)
Jonathan Schoop (game-saving defense, game-winning hit)
Trey Mancini (game-saving catch in 13th)
Jimmy Yacabonis (first MLB win)