The Orioles had lost 19 consecutive games before tonight’s matchup against the Angels. The Birds were facing the face of baseball in Shohei Ohtani, and countered with spot starter Chris Ellis. The odds did not appear to be in their favor.
It didn’t matter.
The Orioles finally decided enough was enough. The league MVP was not going to stand in their way. Not tonight. Ohtani, the Angels, and that stupid cat from the Bronx could all kick rocks. The time had finally come for the Orioles to win a baseball game.
Baltimore rattled off eight consecutive runs to overcome a four-run deficit and clinch their first victory since August 2. Baltimore utilized a five run eighth to secure a 10-6 win at Camden Yards.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the eighth trailing by one. The game felt within reach, but it was difficult to imagine what came next— especially after the last few weeks.
Trey Mancini got things started with a base hit up the middle. Anthony Santander followed with a double into the right field corner, but Mancini held at third. Still, Baltimore had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with nobody out.
Angels’ manager Joe Maddon called for an intentional walk to DJ Stewart, and suddenly the bases were loaded. Maddon stuck with reliever Jake Petricka, but the veteran could not escape the jam. Petricka walked Ramon Urías on four straight pitches to even the score at six.
Maddon yanked Petricka for James Hoyt, and Hoyt struck out Jahmai Jones for the first out of the inning. Kelvin Gutierrez stepped in and delivered a quality at bat an inning after a tremendous play at third base. Gutierrez worked the count full and eventually took ball four to provide Baltimore their first lead since the second inning.
Brandon Hyde sent Austin Hays to bat in place of Austin Wynns, and Hays did not disappoint. The outfielder skied a ball to left field that landed short of the wall but still plated two. All of a sudden, the Orioles were in control.
Cedric Mullins followed with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to four, and Mancini bounced out to finally end the inning.
Tyler Wells entered in a non-save situation, but the Rule-5 pick still faced plenty of pressure. Wells was unphased. He struck out Juan Lagares for the first out, generated a pop out from Jack Mayfield, and retired David Fletcher on a fly ball to right field. Just like that, the Orioles knew how it felt to win again.
Baltimore responded quickly after the Angels appeared to break things open in the fourth. Santander led off the bottom half with a single, and Stewart cut the deficit in half with an impressive at bat. Stewart went with a fastball on the opposite part of the plate and punched it just over the left field fence. Suddenly, the Birds only trailed by two.
The Angels held serve through the fifth and sixth, but Baltimore cut into the lead again in the seventh. Jahmai Jones started the frame with his first hit in an Orioles uniform. Gutierrez took one for the team via a fastball on the hands, and both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Wynns.
Los Angeles summoned Petricka to face Mullins, and the speedy centerfield bounced a ball right up the middle. The Angels had Mullins played perfectly, but Jones scored to make it a 6-5 ball game.
Mullins did not appear intimidated early on by Ohtani. The Orioles’ All Star took the first pitch he saw and blasted it 415 feet to center field in the bottom of the first. The ball left the bat at 102.9 MPH, and the Orioles had their first lead of the game.
Anthony Santander stepped in with two outs and quickly doubled Baltimore’s early lead. Santander laced a line drive homer 108.9 MPH off the bat. The ball landed to the left of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, and the Orioles held a two run lead after one.
The lead did not last long.
Spot starter Chris Ellis set the tone with an early, three-pitch strikeout of Ohtani, but he stumbled in the second. Ellis plunked former Oriole José Iglesias to start the inning, and Max Stassi followed with a double. Brandon Marsh followed with a single to right field and the O’s early lead had disappeared.
Ellis bounced back with a scoreless third, but the Angels broke things open in the fourth. Jared Walsh launched a solo shot that chased Ellis from the game, and Marcos Diplán did not fare much better.
Diplán allowed an Iglesias double and quickly walked Stassi. Marsh returned to the plate and delivered another clutch hit. The rookie ripped a three-run home run that provided Los Angeles a four-run cushion. Just like that, the game felt out of reach.
But it wasn’t.
Conner Greene, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate, Tanner Scott and Tyler Wells combined for a beautiful stretch of relief. Greene did not allow a hit in two innings, and Sulser worked a scoreless sixth. Tate looked untouchable during a four-out stretch, and Scott picked up the only two outs he needed. Wells slammed the door.
On paper, it’s a regular season win over another team projected to miss the playoffs. But tonight, after the last few weeks of misery, it felt like much more. The fact that Baltimore came from behind makes the victory that much sweeter. The Orioles are a lousy baseball team, but the players on that field are still trying to win every night. Any notion that suggests otherwise is just plain false.
Mullins finished 2-4 with 3 RBIs. Santander went 3-4 and scored three runs. Stewart added a pair of walks to his two-run homer, and Gutierrez reached base twice. Austin Wynns put down a sacrifice bunt, and Austin Hays stayed ready on the bench for eight innings. The bullpen came to play. Tonight marked a complete team victory.
The Orioles have a quick turn around with an opportunity to take the series tomorrow afternoon. Keegan Akin will take the mound with a chance to start a different type of streak.
Who was the most Birdland player for August 26, 2021?
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Pedro Severino (6 RBI, grand salami)
Keegan Akin (7 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 6 K)