All hope was lost. The Orioles were on their way to a loss against the Blue Jays to cap off a disastrous four-game series. Then, suddenly, Welington Castillo delivered a ninth-inning game-tying home run and the O’s were able to hold the line in extra innings until Mark Trumbo came through in the 12th. The O’s were able to pull off an unlikely 5-4 win.
Did the Orioles deserve to win this game? Assuredly, they did not. Until Trumbo delivered the game winner in the bottom of the 12th, the Orioles were 0-16 with runners in scoring position. They trailed for most of the nine innings of regulation despite out-hitting the Jays. The O’s finished with 15 hits to the Jays 6. They finally got a big one when it mattered most.
A win is a win is a win. They don’t have to be pretty. They just have to be wins. It doesn’t matter that Chris Tillman struggled once again on the way to an early exit. It doesn’t matter that bad luck and some unfortunate defense nearly sent the O’s to a nine inning defeat. The Orioles won! They don’t have to give it back.
With the win and a Twins loss on Sunday, the Orioles bring themselves back to 1.5 games behind the second wild card spot in the American League. The Orioles should have probably done better than they did against the Jays, but they escape with a split after all and they live to fight another day.
It was the Jays who struck first in the game against Tillman. Surprisingly, it wasn’t in the first inning. It took until the third before he walked rookie Richard Urena and gave up a single to fellow rookie Teoscar Hernandez with one out. That’s not the ideal thing to do before having to face off against bad haircut Josh Donaldson... especially not for Tillman, who entered the game having allowed 20 home runs in 79.2 innings.
Like clockwork, Tillman served up a meatball to Donaldson and the ball was crushed for a three run home run. This was Donaldson’s 25th home run of the year in only 93 games. The Jays took an early 3-0 lead.
The O’s didn’t take long to start pulling back the lead. Although they couldn’t get a clutch hit to save their lives for most of the game, they were able to break up the shutout in the most Orioles way: Home runs! Castillo got the Orioles on the board in the third inning with a solo shot, his 17th of the year. Trumbo added another in the fourth inning, going deep for the 21st time this season.
With the Orioles still having a fighting chance in the game, manager Buck Showalter had the kind of quick hook for Tillman that has been hoped for a lot of this season. Tillman got bounced from the game after opening up the fifth inning giving up a leadoff double to Ryan Goins, the Jays #8 hitter, and again walking Urena, the #9 hitter. He had only thrown 72 pitches.
Showalter brought in Mychal Givens to try to hold the line. Givens made short work of Hernandez before walking Donaldson to load the bases. The O’s then got a little luck on their side: A hard liner by Justin Smoak went right at Chris Davis at first base, who trotted to first base to double up Donaldson and end the inning with the O’s trailing by only one run.
This gave Tillman a final line of three runs on three hits and three walks in four-plus innings pitched. He struck out two batters. It’s easier to have a quick hook in September when the bullpen is full. This decision saved the day for the O’s. If Tillman had tried to work out of that jam, who knows what might have happened?
The sixth inning brought the O’s yet another prime scoring chance. Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a double. What followed was a poster for Showalter’s POFO mantra: Productive Outs For Orioles. Adam Jones hit a groundout to the right side to advance Schoop to third base. Trey Mancini was then able to drive in Schoop with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3. That’s another way to score without getting a clutch hit.
Unfortunately for the O’s, the game did not stay tied for long. In the seventh inning, with Richard Bleier pitching, Goins hit a ground ball just out of the reach of Machado. However, Machado still stabbed at the ball, deflecting it away from Tim Beckham at shortstop. Had he let it pass, Beckham might have been able to make a play. Instead, it went for a double.
Later that inning, pinch hitter Michael Saunders lined another hard shot at Davis. This one short-hopped him and ricocheted off into right field, scoring a go-ahead run for the Jays. Maybe Davis should have had it, maybe it was just bad luck. Either way, the Orioles were losing.
The O’s blew a prime chance in the bottom of the seventh. Trumbo and Castillo opened the inning with back-to-back singles. This led Joey Rickard to try a sacrifice bunt. Not a bad idea to have one of the team’s worst hitters bunt in such a situation, except Rickard - who later in the game had fans chanting his name as if it was still last April - popped up the bunt and advanced nobody.
Two more groundouts later and the rally was snuffed out. So, it seemed, were the Orioles chances of winning, at least until Castillo socked his second home run of the game and 18th of the season to tie things up leading off the ninth inning. That was the ninth blown save of the year for Jays closer Roberto Osuna.
The O’s deployed all of their best short relievers in the game to try to stop the Jays from scoring again. Givens was the escape artist in the fifth inning. Brad Brach pitched a quick eighth, and even closer Zach Britton was brought in for the ninth inning, and once the O’s tied it up, stayed in for the tenth.
It worked. And when that led to the O’s having to use somebody else and hope for the best - as on Friday night, Jimmy Yacabonis - that worked out too. Yacabonis clearly has some kinks to work out. He was nowhere close to the zone as he led off the 11th inning walking Jose Bautista. Then he settled down, retiring five straight Jays hitters, including getting a double play from the very next batter, Kendrys Morales.
In the 12th, Schoop led off with another double, this time off Jays reliever Danny Barnes. The O’s were on their way to blowing another chance, though, with Jones striking out and Mancini hitting a groundout that didn’t advance the runner. The Jays chose to intentionally walk Davis to set up Trumbo with two outs and the chance to win it all.
Trumbo has had a tough year, it must be said, but he has also had some clutch hits. A MASN graphic noted that Trumbo has nine game-winning RBI this season. Almost immediately after that graphic was off the screen, Trumbo lined a ball into left field, far out of the reach of a diving Steve Pearce. Something magic happened.
For his trouble, Trumbo received a double post-game pie from Jones and Schoop while being interviewed on MASN. He abruptly ended the interview and then Jones tweeted this:
No mas pies— 10 (@SimplyAJ10) September 3, 2017
Say it ain’t so!
Every series will be crucial for the Orioles at this point. The Yankees await next. If the O’s can take some games out of their AL East foes, not only will they help out their own cause, but they might just drag the Yankees back down in the wild card race, opening up a second playoff spot that the O’s, if they play well enough, could claim for themselves.
With it being Labor Day weekend, the O’s will be in action again on Monday afternoon to start out that Yankees series with a 2:05 game. Dylan Bundy and Jordan Montgomery are the scheduled starters.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 3, 2017?
This poll is closed
Jonathan Schoop (3-6, 2 2B, scored winning run)
Mark Trumbo (3-6, delivered walkoff hit)
Welington Castillo (3-6, 2 HR, including game-tying in 9th)
Jimmy Yacabonis (2 scoreless IP for second win of weekend)