Believe it or not, spotting a team five runs may not be the best way to win a baseball game. Still, the Orioles nearly pulled out a home victory against Philadelphia Thursday night. Baltimore scored the final four runs of the game, but its comeback bid came up short in a 5-4 loss.
The Orioles did not record a hit until the fifth inning, but a strong effort from the bullpen and some late offense made things interesting. Still, there’s a reason the Phillies are in first place of the NL East and the Orioles have the worst record in baseball.
For the second time this year, the Orioles struggled to solve Phillies starter Nick Pivetta. However, the Birds finally broke through in their third time through the lineup. Meanwhile, Kevin Gausman surrendered five runs in five innings for Baltimore.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Gausman ran into trouble in the third. Jorge Alfaro and Cesar Hernandez both singled to start the inning. With one out, Odubel Herrera hit a dribbler to the left side of the mound. Instead of letting Tim Beckham make a play, Gausman scooped up the grounder and tried to beat Alfaro to third. However, Gausman lost the race, and everyone was safe.
With the bases loaded, Carlos Santana lined a single to left to drive in the first run of the game. Nick Williams bounced a ground ball to second base that was too slow to turn two. Jonathan Schoop got the out at second, but the Phillies held a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies doubled their lead an inning later. Scott Kingery singled to shallow right field, and Gausman plunked Aaron Altherr to put another man on. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Alfaro lined a ball to right field. The ball soared over Mark Trumbo and scored both runners. It was a pedestrian effort by Trumbo, and MASN’s Jim Palmer suggested he may have lost the ball in the sun. Nonetheless, Alfaro had a two-run double, and the Phillies led by four.
Alfaro struck again in the sixth when he smashed a first-pitch slider over the center field fence to put the Phils up five. Gausman allowed two singles after the homer, and was replaced by Paul Fry. Fry got Herrera to line out, and Santana to ground into a double play to end the inning without any further damage.
The Orioles finally had some success against Pivetta their third time through the lineup. Beckham doubled to left, advanced on a ground out, and scored on a fluky infield single by Machado. The ball ricocheted off of Pivetta, and Beckham beat a throw home to get the Birds on the board.
Baltimore used the long ball to claw its way back into the game. With Trumbo on first, Trey Mancini blasted a home run to center that cut the lead in half. The Phillies went to the bullpen, but Jace Peterson took our old friend Tommy Hunter deep on the first pitch that he threw. Suddenly, the Orioles had momentum.
After the Birds trimmed the lead to one, Tanner Scott worked an extremely impressive eighth inning. The leadoff hitter reached on a throwing error by Beckham, but Scott induced a ground ball and struck out Rhys Hoskins to end the inning. Machado and Schoop teamed up for an impressive double play, and Scott got Hoskins to swing and miss at a 3-2 slider.
Machado reached in the bottom of the eighth, but the Orioles failed to tie the game. The Phillies brought in Adam Morgan to get the third out, and Morgan struck out Chris Davis on seven pitches. The strikeout was Davis’s third of the evening.
The Orioles tiptoed around another error in the ninth, with Scott recording two more outs before Buck Showalter summoned Brad Brach to get the third. Brach capped four scoreless innings by the bullpen when he got Maikel Franco to ground out to short.
After showing a great deal of fight, the Orioles went down in the ninth. Seranthony Dominguez sat down Trumbo, Sisco and Mancini to pick up his ninth save and end the game.
The comeback bid served as another example that the Orioles are still trying to win baseball games. They’re just failing to do so.
The Phillies provided Baltimore a golden opportunity to score in the second, but the Orioles wouldn’t bite. Adam Jones and Trumbo both reached on errors, moved up on a wild pitch, but could not come around to score. Alfaro’s double likely could have been caught by an average or above-average right fielder. Despite the Phillies holding a 14-7 advantage in the hit department, Baltimore could have won this game. Instead, the season long narrative of losing continued.
The strong performance by the bullpen and homers by Mancini and Peterson served as a silver lining for Baltimore. Maybe the Orioles can carry those positives into a three game set against the Rangers. If not, this lost opportunity will sting a little bit more.