Isn’t baseball wild? Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense and this night is one of those times. The team that was no-hit for 5.2 innings and shut out for seven shouldn’t win, but the Orioles did! The team whose starter didn’t complete five innings and who was almost out of baseball a year ago shouldn’t win, but the Orioles did!
And the team whose catcher bunts right back to the pitcher for what should have been easy out at third in the 10th inning shouldn’t win. But baseball is wild, which is how that pitcher threw the ball away instead of to third base, allowing the Orioles to get the runner home and win the game.
Picture this: tie game, bottom of the 10th inning. The Manfred Man on second is Jorge Mateo, the fastest guy on the team. Due up are the 7-8-9 hitters, who are often bad on many teams. On the Orioles, they are terrible.
The Red Sox elected to intentionally walk pinch hitter Ryan McKenna to set up the force out at third or a possible double play. They then got exactly what they wanted! With Xander Bogaerts shadowing the speedy Mateo at second to try and keep him close, Robinson Chirinos bunted a ball that went almost right back to the pitcher.
The righty pitcher, Hirokazu Sawamura, had the play right in front of him and plenty of time to make the play at third. But he rushed the throw and sailed it over the head of Rafael Devers at third base. Mateo got home easily and just like that, the Orioles won 2-1 on a ridiculous play.
All of the action took place in the last few innings of the game, but that action only mattered because of the outstanding pitching by Spenser Watkins and the bullpen.
Watkins continued to defy the odds, putting together another solid start. Though he didn’t make it quite five innings, he kept the Orioles in the game and lowered his ERA to just 2.55 on the season.
Maybe it’s just my well-earned pessimism, but when Watkins gave up a run in the first inning I thought this would be the day he blew up. On the first pitch thrown, Red Sox leadoff batter Trevor Story launched a ball to right field that bounced off the warning track for an automatic double. Two batters later, Bogaerts singled back up the middle to knock in Story and give his team the 1-0 lead.
Watkins did walk a guy later in the inning, but then settled down very nicely. He got through innings 2-4 with little drama. He hit a batter in the second, gave up a single in the third, and had a 1-2-3 fourth. Along the way he struck out three batters, all three swinging on his slider.
Headed into the fifth inning the Orioles trailed by just one, so when Watkins got into trouble Brandon Hyde went to the bullpen quickly. After a leadoff single, Story smoked a ball to third base that Urias was able to turn into a double play. Rafael Devers followed with another 100 mph+ hit for a single, and that was the end of the road for Watkins. He was pulled from the game at exactly the right time, in my opinion.
Big Félix Bautista came in from the bullpen and walked Bogaerts with a little help from the umpire. But Alex Verdugo popped out to end the inning.
That was the start of a good run by the bullpen. Nice to see them back to form! In addition to Bautista, the Orioles got scoreless appearances from Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel, Cionel Pérez, Dillon Tate, and Jorge López. They were all outstanding, but a special shout out goes to López, who pitched the final two innings of the game with ease.
The closer came into the tie game in the ninth and got a quick 1-2-3, then came back for the 10th with the Manfred Man looming on second base. He struck out Story and got a groundout for the second out that moved the runner to third. López didn’t intentionally walk the next batter, Bogaerts, but he might as well have. He clearly wanted nothing to do with him. The next batter, Verdugo, grounded out harmlessly to end the top of the 10th and set the stage for the walk-off error.
If the Orioles had lost this game, the focus of this recap would have been the ineptness of the team’s offense and their complete lack of results against Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi. The secondary focus would have been me ranting about how Rougned Odor should be DFA’d. But they won, so that’s all just a footnote.
Eovaldi stymied the Orioles all night. Through the first 5.2 innings, the only Orioles baserunner was Austin Hays, who reached on an error in the second inning. The no-hitter seemed imminent until Cedric Mullins came to the plate in the sixth. He laced a clean double down the left field line to break up the no-no. Sadly, he was stranded.
Eovaldi faltered a bit in the seventh inning, which started with Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays hitting back-to-back singles. The score was still just 1-0 at that point, but before any Orioles fans could get their hopes up, Odor stepped to the plate. He, Ramón Urías, and Tyler Nevin all failed to knock get a with a runner in scoring position.
After seven innings, Eovaldi’s night was finally finished. He gave up just three hits, walked none, and struck out eight. For the most part the Orioles had no chance against him, so him coming out of the game in favor of Matt Barnes was a welcome sight.
The eighth-inning rally started with two outs, and it started with Mullins. He hit his second double of the night, this one to the left-center alley. Alex Verdugo made a diving try but couldn’t make the catch. That set the table for Anthony Santander, whose singled tied the game at one.
The Orioles weren’t able to break through then, but the tie game gave them the chance to walk it off later. And that’s just what they did.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for tonight’s game?
This poll is closed
Spenser Watkins (4.2 IP, 1 R, generally surprising us every time)
Jorge López - Pitched final two innings, saved us from having to see Paul Fry, looked great, got the win
Cedric Mullins - Broke up the no-no with his first double, set the stage for the tie game with his second