It was the 10th anniversary of the Robert Andino Game on Tuesday. The modern-day Orioles found a pretty appropriate way to commemorate it.
Ryan Mountcastle hit a towering two-run home run to kick start a sixth-inning rally, and the O’s came back to beat the Red Sox and Chris Sale 4-2.
There were no walk-offs and no wild celebrations in the infield like there were back on Sept. 28, 2011, and as far as I know, Andino wasn’t even in the ballpark, let alone in uniform. But still, this was pretty good. With Boston trailing in the race for the top Wild Card spot, the Yankees playing the Blue Jays and the Mariners taking on the A’s, the Red Sox could have really used a win tonight.
And the Orioles didn’t let them get it. That’s a shame.
The funny thing is, this wasn’t a case of the Red Sox dominating the entire game and the Orioles getting some fluke bounce to steal a win they had no business getting. There were two errors made, both by the Red Sox. There were 12 hits in the game, and nine were for the Orioles. The lineup that has Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts and all those bats managed three hits. Three. Against Bruce Zimmermann, a minor leaguer for the bulk of this season.
And the other funny thing is, it looked like the Red Sox were gearing up for a win to erase the sting of their weekend sweep against the Yankees, getting home runs by Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe in the second and sixth innings, respectively, to take a 2-0 lead. They had the advantage. They had Sale on the mound.
What could go wrong?
Well, Sale had to go through the potential American League Rookie of the Year. And that proved a path too steep. After Kelvin Gutierrez - whose sparkling defense at third stood out in comparison to the clumsy glovework of Devers, his Boston counterpart - reached on a slow-rolling infield single to short and Mullins flied out, Mountcastle strode to the plate and smashed Sale’s first pitch into the left field seats, 414 feet away.
Tie game. No. 32 for Mountcastle, which led to a pretty entertaining temper tantrum from Sale, who swore and seethed and kicked and flailed and let anyone watching at home just how he felt to have given up the lead.
I was watching on NESN, and when Sale started the next batter, Austin Hays, with 98 mile-per-hour heat, the broadcasters figured his competitiveness was about to take over.
“He’s steaming!” Dave O’Brien said.
“He wants to hurt someone!” Dennis Eckersley added.
Well, Hays didn’t care, smacking a single to center field to chase the Red Sox ace. Boston brought in Matt Barnes but the O’s rally continued, with Trey Mancini hitting a soft single through the hole between first and second to put runners at first and second. Next up was Pedro Severino, who hit a hard grounder to third that Devers couldn’t handle. The ball bounced into left for a single, and Hays came in to score to put the Orioles up 3-2.
This is normally where the Baltimore bullpen would have been the buzzkill, surrendering the lead as quickly as the O’s got it, but not this time. Joey Krehbiel pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and then a 1-2-3 eighth to keep the lead where it was, and the Birds got an insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth when Mancini and Severino had two-out singles and Ryan McKenna went with a pitch down and away and lofted it to shallow center for a hit.
Cole Sulser had the unenviable task of facing Devers, Bogaerts and Martinez for the save, but he made easy work of the first two batters before Martinez hit a line drive to left that McKenna made a leaping catch on to end the game.
It was just an impressive game from the Orioles’ pitchers overall, but particularly Zimmermann, who made his first start since June and pitched four clean innings, allowing only the Schwarber homer and striking out two. Marcos Diplan took the next two innings, striking out three, and Krehbiel and Sulser took it from there.
The Red Sox and their fans were likely expecting the Orioles to be pushovers and mere speed bumps to their solidifying their Wild Card position this week. Instead, Boston is now two games back of New York for the top spot, and the Blue Jays and Mariners are only one game back in an effort to knock the Sox out completely.
Tuesday could have helped the Red Sox out a good amount.
But the Orioles, as they did 10 years ago, had other plans.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Sept. 28, 2021?
This poll is closed
Ryan Mountcastle (1-for-4, game-tying 2-R HR)
Pedro Severino (3-for-4, RBI)
Kelvin Gutierrez (1-for-1, 2 BB, defense at third)
Bruce Zimmermann (4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 Ks)
Joey Krehbiel (Hold, 2 IP, 0 R)