Beating the Red Sox is always an enjoyable experience, but it is better when it clinches a series win and puts the BoSox in a bit of a bind if they wish to play deep into October. That’s exactly what the O’s 6-2 victory on Thursday night at Camden Yards achieved, and it was glorious.
Of course, it was not always apparent that this game was going to be so fun. The very first pitch that Alexander Wells threw ended up in the left field bleachers after Boston’s lead-off hitter Enrique Hernández took it for a ride.
In fact, the entire first inning was a bit of a worrying sign for Wells. The lefty looked uncharacteristically wild, issuing a walk and a line drive single after the long ball. But he would settle down and induce a fly out and pop up to end the threat. Whew!
From there, however, Wells was in control. He cruised through the next four innings, facing the minimum and allowing just one hit, which was eliminated by a double play. The bespectacled southpaw got into a minor jam in the sixth inning by walking Kyle Schwarber and seeing him move to second base on a groundout. But a quick pep talk from Chris Holt gave him whatever help he needed to retire Rafael Devers and escape.
That was a big outing for Wells. He doesn’t feature the biggest set of tools out on the mound, and his velocity was even down in this game as his fastball maxed out at 87.7 mph, according to Baseball Savant. He needed to be precise with his pitches, and he was. It was a perfect way to conclude his rookie campaign.
The Aussie spun the best start of his young career. pic.twitter.com/JVB9HeAl7z— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) October 1, 2021
Boston starter Nick Pivetta was on the other end of the spectrum. This was an important game for his team’s postseason hopes, and he looked amped up. His fastball was coming in at 95.1 mph on average, a slight uptick from what he normally shows. That helped him sail through the first two innings, racking up four strikeouts in the process. But things went awry in the third frame.
Pivetta suddenly lost the strike zone. He walked Tyler Nevin on four straight pitches. Then spent a lot of energy keeping Nevin close at first base with multiple pickoff attempts for some reason. But it wouldn’t matter much after Pat Valaika laced a single to give the O’s runners on the corners. A curveball in the dirt then allowed Valaika to move into scoring position himself.
In a minor reversal of fortunate, Pivetta nearly worked out of it by striking out Jahmai Jones and Cedric Mullins, although the Mullins strikeout was a blown call by the home plate umpire. But Ryan Mountcastle had the last say, launching the first pitch he saw deep into the Orioles bullpen for an Earl Weaver special.
RYAN MOUNTCASTLE IS HERE TO SHAKE THINGS UP! pic.twitter.com/7hBE3XHDRk— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) October 1, 2021
Baltimore’s other runs came on another three-spot in the sixth inning, but they were of the manufactured variety.
With runners on first and second base and Tyler Nevin at the plate, reliever Garrett Richard uncorked a wild pitch (the third of the night by a Boston pitcher) to move both into scoring position. That brought the infield in, which Nevin exploited to squeeze a single through and drive in a pair.
Another wild pitch from Richards moved Ryan McKenna, who had pinch run for Nevin, to third base. A few moments later, McKenna sprinted home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Valaika to make it 6-1.
It was up to the Orioles’ bullpen to see things out from there, and they did well enough. The lone slip-up came in the seventh inning. J.D. Martinez got things started with a double off of Mullins’ glove in deep center field. He eventually came home on a Joey Krehibel wild pitch.
But the Red Sox would get no closer. The rest of Krehbiel’s inning was uneventful. Dillon Tate tossed a scoreless eighth inning. And then Cole Sulser needed just 10 pitches to wrap up the ninth inning, and give the O’s a massive win.
Since this is now also a Mariners blog, it seems important to note that the Mariners are now tied with the Red Sox for the second wild card spot in the American League. The Mariners are off tonight. They begin a series against the Angels tomorrow. The Red Sox head to take on the Nationals. Personally, I just hope everyone has fun!
As for the O’s, their season wraps up north of the border this weekend. They play three against the Blue Jays, who are also hoping to make a postseason run. So it is possible for our team to ruin two seasons in one week.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 30th?
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Alexander Wells (W, 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 2 SO)
Ryan Mountcastle (3-run HR)
Tyler Nevin (clutch 2-RBI single)