Some games you go into feeling it’s going to be a loss. There’s just too much working against them, the pitcher they are facing is just too good. That’s how it felt tonight with the Orioles facing Shane McClanahan. He leads the league in ERA and several other categories. He just started the All Star game last week. No way they were gonna beat this guy.
And you know what? They didn’t beat that guy. But they still won the game. Because after seven innings and 81 pitches of McClanahan almost completely shutting down the Orioles, he came out of the game. I can’t say if that was the right move for McClanahan himself, but it was most certainly the move that allowed the Orioles back into the game. They took the lead in the eighth inning almost as soon as McClanahan came out. After that, it was López time and that was all she wrote.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
The Orioles stayed quiet against McClanahan, but they did at least give us a few moments of hope early on. It started with Cedric Mullins who launched the very first pitch he saw into the flag court to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
After a Trey Mancini groundout (poor Trey, it’s tough out there for him right now), Ryan Mountcastle tried to hit the second home run of the inning. It looked like it would just sneak over the groundskeeper’s shed, but Baltimore’s new arch nemesis Luke Raley make a perfectly timed jump to bring the ball back into the ballpark.
The only other blemish on McClanahan’s night came in the fourth inning courtesy of Anthony Santander. Santader’s home run got out of the park incredibly fast, off the bat at 106.4 mph. The Rays outfielders didn’t even have time to pretend they had a chance before the ball landed in the O’s bullpen.
Aside from that, McClanahan looked how you expect a pitcher with a sub-2 ERA to look. His only non-HR baserunner was a second inning walk to Adley Rutschman. Unfortunately, Adley tried to steal second base on a bobbled ball but was caught easily to end the inning.
On the mound for the Orioles was a slightly less heralded pitcher, Spenser Watkins. Watkins battled tonight, as they say. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff and yet he still pitched into the sixth inning and gave his team a chance to come back. He worked around singles in the first and second innings, before giving up a run in third.
Three singles in that inning helped the Rays break through. The third single was a chopper through the right side by Randy Arozarena. As the run scored, Anthony Santander tried to throw out the runner getting to third. He was safe, but Ramón Urías fired back to second to nab Arozarena who was trying to sneak an extra base.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure Watkins would get past the fourth inning tonight. Isaac Paredes hit his 14th home run to give the Rays the lead, and another run scored a few batters later on an RBI double from Roman Quinn.
That made the score 3-1, quickly 3-2 on Santander’s home run in the bottom half of the inning. It sure felt like the Orioles were losing by more than one run with McClanahan pitching.
Watkins gutted out another inning and a third without giving up a run and was then relieved by Joey Krehbiel. Krehbiel did very good work tonight, putting together 2.1 innings with just one hit and one walk. Watkins had a final pitching line of 5.1 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K.
Then, after seven innings, the magic happened. The Rays pulled McClanahan from the game. From my spot on the couch, I breathed a sigh of relief. I am willing to bet that at least one guy in the Orioles’ dugout did the same.
With McClanahan out and Colin Poche in, the Orioles pounced. Rutschman had a great at-bat and singled into left field to bring the scorching hot Urías stepped to the plate. Coming into tonight, Urías was OPS’ing a cool 1.104 OPS with four homers since coming off the IL on July 4th. Tonight, he conquered Mount Walltimore yet again to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead. I mean, just look at this:
RAMÓN URÍAS CANNOT BE CONTAINED!! pic.twitter.com/GNMdCokbxe— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 27, 2022
You guys, I might love Ramón Urías. Like, love love.
The Orioles weren’t content to stop there and added on an insurance run thanks in part to speed. After a Rougned Odor pop out, Jorge Mateo hustled a double down the left field line and then used his speed to steal third base. That put him in position to score an insurance run when Mancini hit a ball to deep right-center field. It wasn’t enough to get out of the part, but it did get the run in.
Just like that, the Orioles were up 5-3 and the only thing left was for Jorge López to shut it down. He gave up a leadoff infield hit before inducing three groundouts to end the game. There was a little drama with almost double plays and managers challenges, but that was just a small bump in the road to victory.
Orioles win! They’ve now guaranteed themselves at least a series split against the Rays with Tyler Wells on the mound tomorrow.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 26th?
This poll is closed
Ramón Urías (go ahead homer)
Adley Rutschman (single, walk)
Joey Krehbiel (bullpen rock! 2.1 IP, 1 H)