The middle game of the current three game series against the Mariners lasted long into the night. After 13 innings and a little under five hours we finally had a verdict, although it didn’t favor the Birds. But let’s start at the beginning.
Asher Wojciechowski walked a tight rope in the first inning, loading the bases on a hit by pitch, a single and a walk. He managed to get out of the jam by striking out the Daniel Vogelbach — who is a burly, powerful hitter — on a check swing. Despite carrying a .212 batting average into this game, Vogelbach also has 30 home runs and a very keen batting eye.
Mariners’ starter Justus Sheffield breezed through the first, needing only 10 pitches to dispatch of the first three Oriole hitters. That included Hanser Alberto, the lefty killer, who came into the game hitting .403 against southpaws but grounded out in the first. Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander followed with strikeouts.
The O’s worked their first walk of the game in the second inning when Pedro Severino earned a free pass with two down and Renato Nunez at second. Plate patience would be key in this matchup with Sheffield, seeing as the young left-hander is allowing 4.4 BB/9 this year. On the night, Baltimore’s lineup struck out 11 times and walked twice. Sheffield surrendered only one of those walks.
In the bottom of the second, the Orioles took a three run lead with back-to-back doubles. Stevie Wilkerson hit the first one, an opposite field base knock that bounced against the out of town scoreboard and drove in Nunez. Richie Martin followed with a double to the left center gap that scored Severino and Wilkerson.
The Mariners got their first run of the night in the third, courtesy of a solo home run off the bat of Shed Long that cut the Orioles lead to two.
But that lead wouldn’t last long, as Wojo got the O’s into some hot water in the fifth as well. It started out when Long doubled to right with one out and scored on a J.P. Crawford single. A couple more singles later and the bases were jammed, drawing Brandon Hyde from the dugout to replace Wojo with Branden Kline.
The local Frederick product induced a pop up for the second out of the inning, but the tying run scored on a passed ball charged to Severino. It wasn’t even a pitch in the dirt. It was high and Severino just failed to corral it as the ball glanced off his glove and flew all the way to the backstop.
Wojciechowski’s final pitching line was 4.1 innings, six hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, four strikeouts and one home run allowed.
Like many starters across the league, Wojo has shown this year to be less effective the later he pitches into the game. The first time through the batting order, hitters have a .227 average against the right-hander. The second time through the order, that number jumps to .241, and the third time through, .293.
In the fifth inning, Seattle’s lineup was facing Wojciechowski for the third time and he wasn’t fooling anyone by that point. The four hitters who had a third at-bat against the Orioles’ starter went 4-for-4 with a double and three singles. That’s when Hyde went to the bullpen.
In the bottom of the fifth, Wilkerson led things off for the O’s with his second opposite field double of the night. Martin pushed a bunt to the right side of the infield that Sheffield failed to field coming off the mound, which put runners at first and third. The next batter, Alberto, came through with his first hit of the night, an RBI single to left that put the O’s back up by one.
Immediately afterward, Mancini was hit in the leg by a pitch that bounced in the dirt, loading the bases with no outs. After striking out Anthony Santander for the first out of the inning, Sheffield was removed in favor of Brandon Brennan, who struck out Nunez and got Jonathan Villar to fly out.
On the night, Sheffield lasted a total of 4.1 innings, allowing six hits, four earned runs, one walk and five strikeouts.
After trailing or being tied for the entire game up to this point, Seattle stole the lead from the Orioles late with Mychal Givens on the mound. It was a long eighth inning, in which Givens got two outs after an Omar Narvaez lead off single, but then walked Long and gave up a three-run home run to Crawford that gave the Mariners a 6-4 lead.
Low and behold, the O’s had some magic left for the home half of the eighth. Young Austin Hays, who has been getting a lot of positive attention recently, hit a line drive two-run homer into the Orioles bullpen with Santander on base to tie the game at six.
The ninth inning came and went with no further scoring, taking the game into extra innings and giving us free baseball.
The Orioles had a lot of strong relief contributions from the bullpen over the course of the night. Kline, Paul Fry, Shawn Armstrong and Dillon Tate combined to throw seven total scoreless innings with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts. But the two glaring weakspots were Givens and Tanner Scott.
In embarrassing fashion, the Orioles fell behind by a run in the top of the 13th. With Mallex Smith involved, speed was a large factor. The Mariners’ center fielder reached on an error by Scott, who dropped a throw from Hanser Alberto while covering first base.
Mallex then stole second base and scored on a infield hit. Tim Lopes bounced a ground ball to third, which was fielded and thrown to first base by Rio Ruiz. The only problem was the throw didn’t get there in time, and when Mancini fired the ball home it was too late to get Mallex as he slid in for the go-ahead run.
Despite Jonathan Villar getting hit and stealing second, the O’s went down quietly in the ninth.
With the series tied at one game apiece, both teams head into the rubbermatch looking to secure the deciding win. It’ll be the last game at Camden Yards until 2020 and it’d be nice to see the team go out with a bang.