The first two batters of the third inning had already been retired. But as the Orioles reminded everyone watching Sunday, there’s a lot you can do before that third out.
A three-run third inning in which all of the damage was done with two outs lifted the Orioles Sunday to an 8-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Baltimore will have a chance to win the series on Monday.
It didn’t look good at first, as yet another team jumped on starter Asher Wojciechowski and forced the Orioles to fight from behind. This time, however, they were up for the task, even after the first two batters of the third inning were sent down with Detroit leading 2-1.
Dwight Smith Jr. (2-for-4) started the rally with a triple into the right-center field gap. That brought up Hanser Alberto (2-for-5), who’s been one of the best hitters for average in the American League and a singles machine, but who nevertheless tried a squeeze with Smith breaking from third.
It was perfect. Ideal. Textbook. The ball rolled slowly down the third-base line, allowing Smith to score and Alberto to get to first, tying the score at 2.
After playing small ball, the O’s turned to long ball. Rio Ruiz (2-for-4, two RBI) took a full-count offering and slammed it to right field, getting just enough of it for his line drive to clear the wall and put Baltimore in front for the first time, 4-2.
Baltimore extended the lead in the sixth, even after Detroit appeared to be making the plays to keep the deficit manageable. After Alberto led off with a single and Ruiz drew a walk, a bunt failed and then pinch-hitter Pedro Severino lined a single to left. Ruiz was looking to score, but left fielder Victor Reyes’s throw was right on the mark and the Oriole third baseman was toast at the plate.
Didn’t matter. With the rain picking up, Jonathan Villar hit a looping single to center, allowing D.J. Stewart (2-for-5, two runs, RBI) and Severino to score easily and make it 6-2.
The tarp came on for a short rain delay once the inning ended, but the wait didn’t slow the O’s. In the eighth, Stewart had a one-out single and, after a lineout, Villar walked and Mancini reached when his hard shot up the middle went off the pitcher’s glove for an infield single, loading the bases.
Up came Anthony Santander, 0-for-his-last-27. So much for that. His grounder in between first and second found enough of a hole to get through, allowing Stewart and Villar to come in and make it 8-2.
While the Orioles were putting together their rallies, the bullpen had a rare strong showing. Evan Phillips, Tanner Scott, Dillon Tate and Tayler Scott each threw a scoreless inning of relief, and while each allowed a hit, they struck out a combined eight batters to keep any Tiger rallies from materializing.
Even Wojciechowski ended up with a solid outing after a poor start. He allowed a run on Jordy Mercer’s double in the first and another on Grayson Greiner’s single in the second, and he gave up six hits in the first two innings alone.
But after the early struggles, Wojciechowski settled down. He retired the last three batters of the second to strand a pair, then nine of the next 11. He finished with five innings pitched and the two runs allowed on eight hits and no walks.
Baltimore got its first run across in the second, evening the score at 1. Alberto beat out a double-play grounder to reach first with one out, and his hustle proved costly for the Tigers as Ruiz moved him up with a single to right and Stewart smacked a single up the middle to bring him in.
Baltimore ended up loading the bases, then squandering the opportunity for more when Villar popped up and Mancini whiffed for the third out. It would, however, be far from their last chance to do some damage this afternoon.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, September 15th?
This poll is closed
Rio Ruiz (2-for-4, 2-R HR)
Hanser Alberto (2-for-5, 2 R, RBI)
Asher Wojciechowski (5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 Ks, 0 BB)
D.J. Stewart (2-for-5, 2 R, RBI)
Dwight Smith Jr. (2-for-4, 3B, R)