After the opener of this series, when I wasted my time staying up until 1 in the morning to watch the Orioles lose an easily winnable game in 15 innings, I tramped to bed grumbling about the latest O’s debacle. Why, I asked myself, can’t the Orioles just have a nice, easy game, for once in their lives? Just one game where they take an early lead, and actually hold onto it, and cruise to a win without any shenanigans whatsoever?
“OK, done,” said the Orioles.
Wait, what? They can just...do that?
Apparently, my friends, they can. The Birds’ 11-4 victory over the Blue Jays tonight was one of the breeziest, most well-played, stress-free games of the soon-to-conclude 2019 season. The Orioles jumped out to a multi-run lead in the first inning and never looked back, adding on throughout the night while keeping Toronto at arm’s length. The Blue Jays never so much as brought the tying run to the plate at any point in the game.
The O’s were originally slated to face rookie southpaw Anthony Kay, whose first career win came at the expense of the Birds last week in Baltimore. But Kay was scratched with back pain, forcing the Jays to cobble together a bullpen game. Just what they wanted after using nine relievers the previous night! One of those nine, lefty Thomas Pannone, was first onto the mound tonight.
Right from the outset, all the breaks seemed to go the Orioles’ way. Jonathan Villar led off with a single and, on a close pickoff play at first base, was ruled safe. The Jays challenged the call, but after an extended review, the ruling was upheld. Less than five minutes into the game, the Blue Jays were out of challenges. I sure hope they don’t end up needing one of those, like, two batters later.
Two batters later, Trey Mancini drove a ball to the warning track in left field. Derek Fisher made a fantastic leaping catch at the wall, but after a few seconds, the ball popped out of his glove when he hit the ground. I feel like that could’ve been ruled a catch, but the umps called it a live ball, giving Mancini a double. And the Blue Jays couldn’t challenge because, as we established, they were out of them.
Renato Nunez drove home both runners on a double, then scored on a Dwight Smith Jr. RBI single, staking Dylan Bundy to a 3-0 lead before he even took the mound.
It was more than Bundy needed, considering his dominance on this night. Bundy had his big breaking curveball working to perfection, helping him mow down the first eight batters he faced, four of them on strikeouts. After Fisher broke Bundy’s streak with a solo homer in the third, the right-hander proceeded to retire the next seven batters, too. He looked about as overpowering as I’ve seen him in years.
Bundy finally showed some cracks in the sixth, when he surrendered three baserunners — two walks and an infield single — that plated the Jays’ second run. By then, though, he had plenty of breathing room, thanks to a potent O’s offense.
The Orioles added to their lead in the fourth against a pitcher named Wilmer Font, who had a Helvetica of a time trying to get them out. The Birds pulled off an Arial attack against him, homering two Times (New Roman). Smith got it started with a leadoff blast to right, his first home run since July 23, and Austin Wynns added a solo shot with two outs, his first since last Sept. 21. When even Austin Wynns is hitting homers, things have truly gotten comic. Or should I say...Comic Sans?
I regret nothing about that previous paragraph.
The long ball parade continued in the sixth, this time with DJ Stewart victimizing his distant cousin, Brock Stewart. They’re not actually cousins, but it seems believable enough, doesn’t it? Like, was anyone actually going to fact-check that? DJ’s two-run homer to right extended the O’s advantage to 7-1.
It should be noted that two of the Orioles’ home runs were hit by guys who weren’t even in the lineup before Kay was scratched, Smith and Stewart. Who knew that a guy with two major league starts coming down with back pain would be the best thing that ever happened to the Orioles? Anyway, Mancini added an RBI single later in the sixth, part of his first career five-hit game.
The Birds plated another three runs in the eighth against Buddy Boshers and Sam Gaviglio, two more pitchers who had already worked in the series opener. All the runs scored with two outs, thanks to back-to-back-to-back RBI singles by Rio Ruiz, Smith, and Stewart. The O’s hung an 11-spot on the board, thanks to a 6-for-16 performance with runners in scoring position.
Bundy, for his part, worked seven excellent innings, giving up just two runs and three hits while striking out six. It was his third outing this season of seven or more innings and two or fewer runs.
The almost completely shenanigans-free game was muddied somewhat by Tayler Scott being kind of ridiculous in the ninth, allowing four consecutive batters to reach base and two to score. He now has a 14.33 ERA in eight games for the Orioles. I don’t want to say he’ll be one of the first players jettisoned from the 40-man roster this offseason, but let’s just say he shouldn’t buy a house in Baltimore anytime soon. Still, the O’s had such a huge advantage that the lead was Scott-proof, and he struck out the final two batters to end it.
There you have it. The Orioles took an early lead, held onto it, and cruised to a win. Thanks, guys!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Tuesday, September 24?
This poll is closed
Dylan Bundy (7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 6 K)
Trey Mancini (first career 5-for-5 game)
Dwight Smith Jr. (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs against his former team)