Dean Kremer, the guy who had an ERA near 8 last year, against Alek Manoah, one of 2022’s Cy Young contenders? Not a recipe for an easy win. Compound this with the fact that the Orioles had dropped the first two games of this series to the Toronto Blue Jays, and if you chose to write this game off as a waste of a perfectly good Sunday, I get it.
Over eight innings, you would have casually checked the score on your phone, shrugged, shaken your head, and gone back to watching football, or whatever.
But this time, you would have been WRONG!
The Orioles could not defeat Toronto’s All-Star righty Alek Manoah, but they endured him. Actually, they put up a decent showing against Manoah, minus the runs part: they saw 75 pitches from him in four innings, and forced him to allow a season-high four walks, including two from Adley Rutschman himself, who reached base four times today. (Adley is a force, y’all.) The O’s put runners on against Manoah in the first, third, fourth, and sixth innings.
And all of this good work still translated into a two-run deficit after seven innings. It was exhausting. But this Sunday afternoon, they had a little Orioles magic up their sleeve.
The continued RISP issues can’t be ignored. Robinson Chirinos is basically a guaranteed out. Santander has been so valuable this year, but he went 0-for-5 with two big rally-killing outs, including a popout in the third inning after Mullins walked and the Unstoppable Adley doubled him over to third. And in the fourth, the Birds scored only one run after a one-out Terrin Vavra single, Austin Hays single, and Jorge Mateo RBI double. Mateo’s blow, the biggest hit of the game to that point, scored only Vavra, which was a shame. Because Chirinos and Mullins left Hays and Mateo stranded.
Meanwhile, Dean Kremer pitched pretty well, allowing two runs on four hits in five and 2/3 innings. Most of the time, that puts you in line for a W. It didn’t for him tonight, but that’s OK.
Kremer struggled a little, walking five, but one thing that really helped: the defense behind him was stellar. Not only did Santander, Gunnar Henderson, Vavra, and Mateo all make highlight-reel plays today, but in the third, after the Jays had plated one run against Kremer courtesy of a HBP, a walk and a Bo Bichette single (who else), a liner ended up right at Jorge Mateo. Mateo fired it to Vavra at second, who fired to Jesús Aguilar at first. (Tinkers to Evers to Chance, says a nerdy voice in my head.) The Orioles’ first triple play since 2017. Sit down, Jays!
Kremer looked to be cruising through the fourth, but he left up a bad fastball to Jansen, who smashed it deep to center, putting the Blue Jays up again, 2-1. Back in the dugout, Kremer could be seen mashing his glove against his head, and you could practically hear Homer Simpson going d’oh! D’oh! D’oh!
Kremer gutted out two outs in the sixth, and then Dillon Tate came in. Tate was pumping heat, and first looked to be taking no hostages… but then he let Vlad Guerrero take him deep. Tate is boom-and-bust that way. A 3-1 lead felt like Mount Everest to climb.
Yes, we had all probably written off the Orioles—and Jesús Aguilar—too soon. Because a comeback was brewing, and it started with the big bopper from Venezuela, who took weird slinky Blue Jays sidearmer Adam Cimber deep to draw the score to one.
Down one run, and with a lot on the line, Brandon Hyde put in two pinch hitters to face All-Star closer Jordan Romano in the ninth inning. It worked. Kyle Stowers bopped a ball in front of the left fielder. A leadoff hit! Ramón Urías, hitting for Chirinos, had one of his good at-bats, seeing a bunch of pitches and then poking one the other way. Orioles on first and third, no outs! Cedric Mullins (who we probably don’t talk about enough) worked a walk to bring up…
Exactly who you’d want up in this situation. Adley Rutschman fouled off an 87-mph slider, then handily sped up his bat and tapped 98 the other way through the hole at shortstop. Stowers, you get a run! Urías, you get a run!
The Orioles were up 4-3. Yes, the RISP issues aren’t completely forgiven/forgotten, because Santander hit a terribly-timed GIDP. But Toronto tried to get clever, intentionally walking Gunnar Henderson to get to Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar made the Jays pay, dumping a run-scoring single into right field for a crucial fifth run. Cedric Mullins was home, and the Orioles, who couldn’t buy a run all game, suddenly had three in the ninth inning against one of the game’s most lockdown relievers.
No more tomfoolery, said Brandon Hyde, back in the dugout. (I like to imagine he really said this.) To close the game out, he put in a battery of Rutschman and Félix Bautista. Bautista threw smoke past Danny Jansen: Out No. 1. He got a roller to second: Out No. 2.
Then “The Mountain” blinked: he walked Cavan Biggio and allowed George Springer to smoke a ball off the CF wall, plating the Jays’ fourth run and coming inches from tying the game. Brandon Hyde came out for a mound conference, but it kind of looked like a big team hug. Bautista walked Guerrero, but against Oriole killer Bo Bichette, he did what he needed to do: fastball, fastball, splitter—game-ending groundout.
All this is to say, sometimes the underdog wins, but often the better team does. And then, sometimes, there is Chaos. The 2022 Baltimore Orioles in a nutshell.
Who Was the Most Birdland Player on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022?
This poll is closed
Dean Kremer (5 2/3 innings, 4 H, 2 R)
Jesús Aguilar (eighth-inning bomb to cut the lead to 1, drove in the game-winning fifth run)
Adley Rutschman (2-for-3, 2 BB, 2-run single, great D as pinch catcher)
Kyle Stowers (9th inning pinch hit to kick off the comeback)