After losing the first two games of this four-game series, the Orioles bounced back to take the final two to salvage a split. They lost a starting pitcher in the first inning and allowed the go-ahead run to reach the plate in the ninth, but in the end it was a 5-4 win. And after the last week of Orioles baseball, that is enough.
It was a rough start to the game for the Orioles as Wade LeBlanc had to leave with injury while facing just his fifth batter of the day. After throwing a 65 mph pitch to Christian Vazquez, LeBlanc immediately motioned to the dugout for a trainer and left the game.
The report that came out after his removal was elbow discomfort, which is never what you want to hear for a pitcher. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the coming days if this is a season-ending thing for LeBlanc.
Before LeBlanc left, he did give up a lead off home run to Kevin Pillar to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. That guy, am I right? What a nuisance.
Thomas Eshelman got the call to replace LeBlanc, and he did a stellar job in relief. He finished the Vazquez at-bat with a walk, but then went on to retire the next 13 batters! That’s right, he got the final out in the first inning and then pitched four straight 1-2-3 innings. Talk about efficient.
Eshelman’s excellent performance gave the Orioles the chance to take the lead in the game, which they did in the third when they scored three runs. They really should have gotten the lead earlier and they should have ended up with more than three runs, but they just kept missing opportunities against starter Zack Godley.
Cedric Mullins started off the game with a rocket to right-center field for a double, and the Orioles went on to load the bases with two outs on a Pedro Severino walk and a Chance Sisco HBP. But Pat Valaika struck out to end the inning and no runs were scored despite Godley throwing 32 pitches.
The second inning saw another lead off double, this one from Ryan Mountcastle. The rookie roped a ball at 101.4 mph down the left field line. He was also stranded, though Andrew Velazquez also reached on a walk in the inning.
Finally in the third inning, they broke through when Godley completely fell apart. Godley did get two outs, but he also walked Severino, Sisco, and Mountcastle to load the bases. Yes, Mountcastle walked again! Though in fairness, I probably could have walked in that plate appearance. Godley threw four pitches that weren’t particularly close, including one that went over Mountcastle’s head.
Godley was then pulled from the game, though he miraculously had the chance to get out without allowing any runs. That chance was blown by the relief pitcher, Jeffrey Springs, as Rio Ruiz drove a double to right field that scored both Severino and Sisco. A third run came in to score when Velazquez dropped a bunt to the third base side. Mountcastle came in from third as the speedy Velazquez reached on an infield single.
A 3-1 lead for the Orioles never feels safe, so it was frustrating when they stranded two more doubles in the next few innings. In the fourth, Anthony Santander doubled to run his hit streak to 18 games, and in the fifth Mountcastle doubled for the second time in the game.
All of the missed opportunities loomed large in the sixth inning when Miguel Castro replaced Eshelman and almost immediately got into trouble. Pillar greeted him with a single, then with out out Castro walked J.D. Martinez. Pillar stole third, because of course he did. Can we get this guy out of the A.L. East already?
That set the stage for Xander Bogaerts, who launched a ball to deep right field. Santander made a leaping try but the ball hit the wall just above his outstretched glove. Pillar scored to make the score 3-2, but Martinez only made it to third base. He did try to score on the next play, a ground ball to Valaika at second base. But Valaika alertly fired home and Martinez was out easily. Castro struck out the next batter to end the inning.
The Orioles didn’t have a chance to strand a double in the sixth, but only because Pillar threw Renato Núñez out trying to stretch a single. That guy!
Ruiz gave the Orioles some more breathing room in the seventh inning. Severino and Sisco had back-to-back singles to start things off, though unfortunately Severino had to leave the game with left hip flexor tightness. Get well soon, Pedro! He was replaced by Bryan Holaday.
After Valaika bunted for some reason, Mountcastle struck out for the second out. It was all up to Rio and he came through. He hit a line drive to left field towards our nemesis, Kevin Pillar. For some reason Pillar was playing Rio as shallow as outfielders play me in co-ed slow pitch softball, and it went over his head for a single. I don’t want to paint it as a cheap hit, but it was very un-Pillar-like.
Both Holaday and Sisco scored on the play to give the Orioles a nice three-run cushion. And, as it turned out, they needed every one of those runs to survive.
Paul Fry relieved Castro and pitched 1.1 very good innings. He was replaced by Mychal Givens with one out in the eighth inning and Givens looked very good. He quickly got the second and third outs of the inning and came back for the ninth. His streak of allowing zero runs was intact and it looked like he’d get his first save of the season.
After a strikeout to start the ninth, Givens issue a one-out walk. He then got the second out via fly ball and the game looked to be almost wrapped up. But for some reason, manager Brandon Hyde didn’t want to keep Givens in. Givens was visibly frustrated as he walked into the dugout.
I have to admit I really don’t get that one. I’m sure Hyde will be asked about it, but not before I hit publish on this bad boy.
So Tanner Scott relieved Givens and just immediately gave up a two-run homer. Just like that the lead was cut to one and Givens 0.00 ERA was toast. Very frustrating. Hyde had already gotten good performances out of four relief pitchers, why roll the dice on another?
The next batter, Jonathan Arauz, singled up the middle to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Pillar. But his bat isn’t as mighty as his glove, and Pillar grounded out to end the game.
Orioles win, 5-4. It was dicier than it needed to be, but a win is a win. The O’s are back up to .500 and after an off day on Monday will face the Rays on the road on Tuesday.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sunday, August 23rh?
This poll is closed
Thomas Eshelman (4.1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 13 straight retired)
Rio Ruiz (2-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI)
Ryan Mountcastle (2-for-3, 2 2B, BB)