You know, when Austin Hays is cranking homers and Kelvin Gutierrez is making diving stops on hard-hit grounders, and the Orioles are hitting pitch after pitch all around and out of the ballpark, it’s easy to forget a defining rule with this season’s Baltimore ballclub.
If there’s a chance for everything to go wrong, it’s a good bet it will.
That was the case yet again in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, as a win the Orioles seemed to put out of doubt was still dashed to pieces when George Springer’s two-run home run lifted the Toronto Blue Jays to an 11-10 victory, one that saw them score four runs in the top of the seventh and final inning to steal the game.
It was shaping up all along to be a fun afternoon and evening, and instead it turned into another game in which one side of the Orioles - in this case, the lineup - consistently comes through, again and again, while the other -pitching and defense - does nothing to help. The Orioles have lost 95 games, this happens a lot. But damn if it doesn’t sting each time.
Our story heats up after the Orioles got back-to-back home runs from Hays (his second of the day, and 18th of the season) and Ryan Mountcastle (his 27th), and then an RBI single from Pedro Severino to go ahead 10-5. Things were good. Fans were happy.
“They have hit everything,” Ben McDonald said on the MASN broadcast.
But oh, three treacherous innings remained. Jake Lamb had a two-run single in the top of the fifth, making it 10-7. Still, three-run lead, no worries.
Then in the sixth, Marcus Semien reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third with one out and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up, but Guerrero grounded out and Bo Bichette lined out. Once again, no worries.
Then, in the seventh, the Orioles’ attempt to get four outs from Tyler Wells went drastically sideways. Teoscar Hernandez doubled leading off, Corey Dickerson walked and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. smacked a ball off the wall that went for a single, scoring Hernandez and moving Dickerson to third. A Lamb flyout scored Dickerson, making it 10-9, but Danny Jansen flew out to left. Two outs.
The O’s never got the third. George Springer cranked a shot down the left field line that sailed over the fence in the corner, putting Toronto ahead 11-10.
Brandon Hyde wasn’t mic’d up for that moment. But it probably sounded similar to Friday night.
The offense did everything it needed to for the O’s to win what was a three-hour-plus game, and just the first of two on Saturday. Anthony Santander smoked a two-run homer in the first inning, and after Gurriel answered with a two-run blast off of Dean Kremer (four innings, five runs, seven hits), Severino led off the bottom of the second with a single and Gutierrez followed soon after with a double, allowing Richie Martin’s grounder to score Severino and make it 3-2.
The lead jumped to three runs in the next at-bat when Hays hit his first-round tripper of the day, a 383-foot poke to left that made it 5-2. Toronto hit again with a Guerrero Jr. homer in the third, but Baltimore counter-punched in the bottom half when Trey Mancini walked and Santander and Severino singled, loading the bases, and Ryan McKenna of all people roped a double to left to score two and make it 7-3.
Jansen tagged a two-run tater in the fourth to move Toronto closer at 7-5, but the Orioles, again, responded in the bottom half. Hays lofted a fly ball to left field that clipped the tip of Gurriel’s glove and went over the wall for a home run, and Mountcastle followed with a less in-doubt circuit clout in the next at-bat, kick-starting the three-run rally that put Baltimore ahead 10-5.
Toronto continued to chip away, but this time, there was no pushback. The Orioles threatened by loading the bases in the bottom of the sixth, but a Gutierrez grounder to second ended the threat.
The unscored runs loomed large just a half-inning later. Fortunately, the Orioles didn’t have to wait long to get their next shot at the party crashers from north of the border.