Tonight’s game between the Orioles and Phillies lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes, and through the first nine innings the teams were deadlocked at 1-1. That is a whole lot of baseball game with very little payoff.
It took until the 10th inning to really see some action, but if you are a fan of the Baltimore Orioles I regret to tell you that the action did not turn out in your favor. Combine a pitcher who doesn’t really belong in the big leagues, the extra innings extra runner, an intentional walk to the winning run, and ball hit to the worst outfielder on the field. What you get is a heartbreaking extra innings loss.
The Walk-Off Loss
After nine innings of mostly futility, the Orioles got things started right in the 10th. With Kelvin Gutierrez as the Manfred Man on second base to get things started, Cedric Mullins stepped to the plate. It would have been a great time for his 30th home run, but instead he flew out. Gutierrez moved to third.
The productive out didn’t really matter as Austin Hays smoked a ball down the left field line. Gutierrez came home and the Orioles were up 2-1. The Orioles really needed to score more. With Hays on second with one out, they had that chance. But they blew it. Anthony Santander struck out, and after an intentional walk to Trey Mancini, Pedro Severino popped out. They really needed a few more runs. Did I mention that?
Armed with the slimmest of leads, the Orioles turned to César Valdez. Yes, the same Valdez that had been demoted to the minors in mid-August after his season completely fell apart. Not the guy I really want to see in this situation, but after using seven other bullpen pitchers there weren’t a lot of options.
Valdez almost did it. But almost isn’t good enough. A hard ground ball to shortstop moved the Manfred Man over to third base with one out. Valdez then struck out Jean Segura with his signature slop for the second out. For a moment, I thought he might do it.
With two outs, the Orioles opted to intentionally walk Bryce Harper. Putting the winning run on base hurts, but it was absolutely the right call. You don’t let César Valdez face Bryce Harper.
Unfortunately, JT Realmuto is also pretty good. He smoked a 78 mph ball to right field, towards Santander. The ball was hit well and it would have been a miracle if Santander had caught it. He didn’t, but he also didn’t play the carom well which bought Harper time to race all the way around from first base to home. The throw wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t in time. Harper slid in with the winning run, and that was that.
The Complete Lack of Offense
When your pitching staff allows just one run through nine innings, you should win that game. But that’s not what happened tonight. It’s not that they didn’t have their chances. They just couldn’t come through when it was needed.
Cedric Mullins started the game with his 36th double and Austin Hays got plunked in the back to put two runners on with no outs in the first. But the batters following them couldn’t capitalize. Anthony Santander flew out and Trey Mancini hit into a double play.
They stranded two more runners in the second inning, then in the third it looked maybe like Mullins finally joined in the 30/30 club. He launched a ball to right field during a John Means interview, prompting Means to stop mid sentence to cheer “oh! go!” But the ball was just foul. Video review was inconclusive but one angle kind of made it look like it glanced off the foul pole. I don’t think it did, though.
Mullins settled for a single after his non-homer, but was again stranded.
Finally, a single run came in to score in the fourth inning. With two outs, Phillies’ pitcher Adonis Medina hit Richie Martin and walked Kelvin Gutierrez, bring up pinch hitter Ramón Urías. Urías was pinch hitting for pitcher Marcos Diplán, because National League. Urías did what was needed, singling back up the middle. Martin scored from second and the Orioles were up 1-0. Mullins couldn’t extend the rally, grounding out to end the inning.
Unfortunately more runners were stranded after that. Two more runner stranded in the sixth. A one-out single wiped away by a double play in the eighth. A 1-2-3 ninth meant that the Orioles were not going to win this game in regulation.
The Bullpen Game
When you hear the words bullpen game, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But I have to give the bullpen guys a lot of credit. They weren’t perfect, but they were pretty darn good. It’s hard to argue with one run in nine innings.
Making the “start” was Conner Greene, the 15th different pitcher this year to start for the Orioles. It was a pretty ugly, but he didn’t allow any runs. He did give up a single, throw a wild pitch, hit a guy, and allow a stolen base. But no runs. And he struck out Bryce Harper!
Marcos Diplán replaced Greene after just one inning, and he was good. Two innings, two hits, no runs. He got some help when Harper singled and Harper tried to stretch it into a double. He thrown out with room to spare by Anthony Santander.
Thomas Eshelman took over for Diplán in the fourth inning, his first appearance with the Orioles since July 28th. Eshelman had been pretty bad his last go round with the team, but tonight he was very effective. The Phillies were flummoxed by Eshelman’s slow pitches. His only real blemish was a double hit by Realmuto in the sixth inning.
With two outs and Realmuto on second, Hyde replaced Eshelman with Dillon Tate. Tate came into the game having allowed 46% of his inherited runners to score. That is really not good. He immediately made the number worse by giving up an RBI double to Andrew McCutchen that tied the game at 1-1. Great job, Tate.
He did come back and pitch a scoreless seventh inning, so it’s not like he was really all that bad. He just was not clutch. Yeah, I said it!
Things got dicey in the eighth inning with Fernando Abad on the mound. Harper doubled, moved to third on a ground ball and then, with the infield in, ran on contact on the next ball hit. Unfortunately for the Phillies it was a ground ball to second base and Harper was thrown out easily.
Eric Hanhold came in to get McCutchen to end the inning. Tyler Wells pitched a perfect ninth and looked very good. I hope he stays good.
Those seven pitchers got the Orioles through nine innings with a tie game. They couldn’t have done much more. Then it was all up to César Valdez.