Had it all the way! Haha, am I right?
(takes long swig of a stiff drink)
(takes another swig)
Well, I guess I’m the poor sucker who has to try to explain what the hell just happened here tonight.
You know what? You might be better off just not knowing. Just look at the final score, see that the Orioles won, 12-11, and go to bed happy. I’ll even throw in a bonus tidbit for you: Pedro Severino hit three home runs! No fooling! What an enjoyable, routine, stress-free Orioles win.
(takes one more swig)
Let’s just ignore the part where the Orioles nearly choked away a seven-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, narrowly avoiding the meltdown to end all meltdowns. Or the part where the O’s played the kind of defense that would make a Little League team shake their heads in embarrassment. Or the fact that this debacle of a game took nearly four hours to complete, a slog that didn’t include a single 1-2-3 inning for either side but did include four replay reviews.
It’s an O’s win. For that, we can be thankful. But getting there was excruciating to watch.
Because I like you, dear Camden Chatters, I’ll start with the non-excruciating stuff. The Orioles’ bats had plenty of fun on this warm Texas night, tying for their most prolific run-scoring display of the season.
Facing Rangers lefty Drew Smyly and his 6.98 ERA, the Orioles did to him what every other team in the league has done: tattoo him up and down the ballpark. The fun began immediately when the first two batters of the game reached base, setting up a Dwight Smith Jr. three-run homer into left-center field. That’ll do!
No sooner had Smyly shaken off that blast than the next batter, Pedro Severino, followed suit with a home run of his own. Instantly, it was a 4-0 score against Smyly...and now it was the Orioles who were smiley.
Sorry. I’ll show myself out.
The O’s didn’t ease off the gas pedal, adding another run in the second on a Trey Mancini sac fly, then rallying for four more in the fourth. Keon Broxton led off with a towering homer into the left-field seats, his third as an Oriole, and Hanser Alberto reached on an infield single with one out (he was originally ruled out, but the call was reversed after an O’s challenge). That concluded Smyly’s night, with his already putrid ERA rising to 7.93. As Mark Brown would say, he failed the Matusz Test.
In came veteran righty David Carpenter, making his first appearance in the majors in four years. Let’s just say he was rusty. Carpenter’s first six pitches were all balls, resulting in walks to Mancini and Renato Nunez that loaded the bases. Smith then brought them all home, stinging a liner up the middle that rolled nearly all the way to the wall. By the time the dust settled, three runs had scored and Smith had a six-RBI night. And it was only the fourth inning!
With nine runs of support, I’d like to say that Dylan Bundy cruised comfortably through his outing. I will not say that, because he didn’t. Bundy was...fine. But not great. And the Rangers worked him for 96 pitches to chase him after five innings.
Bundy’s evening got off to an inauspicious start when he surrendered a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo. He recovered to keep the Rangers off the board for the rest of that inning and the second, but they scored again in the third on an Elvis Andrus sac fly. In the fourth, Bundy allowed a pair of two-out hits to bring in another run. The fifth inning was scoreless but not clean, with Bundy stranding a leadoff hit batsman. An Asdrubal Cabrera single to start the sixth brought Brandon Hyde out of the dugout with a hook for Bundy.
The newly bearded O’s hurler finished with a line of five innings, six hits, three runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. Meh.
Just for giggles (or so they thought at the time), the offense piled on some more run support. And by “the offense,” I mean Pedro Severino. The O’s catcher had the game of his life, blasting a two-run homer in the seventh and then a solo blast in the ninth, giving him three roundtrippers on the night. It marked the first three-homer game of Severino’s career.
The Orioles had 12 runs. They held a gigantic lead. This game should have, by all rights, ended in a comfortable O’s blowout win.
But, friends, we can’t have nice things. Never underestimate the sheer horror that is the Orioles’ bullpen — and the frustrating display that is the Orioles’ defense.
As the innings wore on, the cracks began to show. Branden Kline, after striking out the first two batters of the seventh, had trouble finishing the inning. He allowed an infield single to Delino DeShields, who, when he tried to steal second, was hit by Severino’s throw because nobody was covering second base. DeShields advanced to third on the error and scored on a single. Kline then walked a guy before finally escaping the jam.
The eighth was similarly ugly. With runners at the corners and two down against Shawn Armstrong, Choo squeaked a grounder past Chris Davis to second baseman Jonathan Villar. As Armstrong tried to cover the bag, Villar’s throw sailed past him. The Birds’ second error plated the Rangers’ fifth run, though Armstrong worked out of further trouble.
That brings us to the bottom of the ninth. Hoo boy. Where’s my drink?
The Orioles, mind you, entered the inning with a commanding 12-5 lead. They ended it with six runs in and the potential tying run in scoring position, while Hyde and Orioles fans everywhere pulled out their hair in disbelieving despair.
The rally began with — what else? — an Orioles error, as Richie Martin fielded an Andrus grounder but uncorked a wild throw to first. Josh Lucas then lost the strike zone completely, walking two consecutive hitters. With a seven-run lead, I remind you.
Hyde had understandably seen enough of Lucas, turning to Richard Bleier. And then things got worse. Cabrera swatted a fly to left field that was deep, but catchable. Unless, of course, the left fielder broke the wrong way, which is exactly what Smith did. The ball sailed over his head for a two-run double. Bleier then got ahead of Rougned Odor 0-2, only to serve up an RBI single. Suddenly it was a 12-8 game, and there was still nobody out.
The hits kept coming. Pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe lashed a double to left field, and Rangers runners steamed around the bases as the O’s chucked the ball around. Two more runs came home. You’ve got to be kidding me. The Birds’ lead was whittled to 12-10, and the potential tying run was at the plate. STILL with no outs. Oh my god, they’re actually going to blow this.
A groundout mercifully paused the rally for a second, but it resumed when Bleier couldn’t spear a Choo comebacker, instead deflecting it away for an RBI infield single. 12-11. Tying run on base. Winning run at the plate. WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Hyde, who at this point looked like he wanted to murder everyone, went to his bullpen again for Mychal Givens. Yes, the same Mychal Givens who was recently banished from the closer role for repeatedly blowing games. But honestly, what choice did Hyde have at this point? He needed someone to get some outs, and nobody else seemed interested in doing it.
Givens, at last, restored order, but not before making trouble for himself. After striking out DeShields, Givens tried to pick off Choo at first, but threw the ball away for the Orioles’ fourth error. That advanced the tying run to scoring position.
Even the final out was nerve-wracking. Givens struck out Andrus on a pitch so far inside that it bounced away from the catcher. It took a sensational play by Severino to corral the ball and fire a bullet to first base, nipping Andrus by an eyelash to complete the strikeout.
And with that, the ballgame was over. The O’s, incredibly, had escaped a near-disaster of their own making.
Like I said. Had it all the way.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Tuesday, June 4?
This poll is closed
Pedro Severino (three home runs, game-ending defensive play)
Dwight Smith Jr. (three hits, HR, six RBIs)
Mychal Givens (struck out the final two batters of the game)