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Orioles win roller coaster ballgame against Angels with late comeback, 5-4

The O’s seemed destined to lose about six separate times on this night, only to pull out an improbable victory in 10 innings. These guys are fun!

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, O’s fans. If you didn’t stay up until 1 in the morning on the east coast to watch this one, you missed one of the craziest, wildest, equal parts aggravating and exhilarating games of the season.

Then again, if you didn’t watch, at least you still have your fingernails intact and were never in danger of sudden cardiac arrest, unlike we fools who witnessed this absurdity of a ballgame.

The bottom line is that the Orioles beat the Angels, 5-4, in 10 innings. But here, in win probability graph form, is how they got there:

Yeah. That happened.

The O’s had a late lead, blew it, annoyingly fell behind in the eighth, dramatically came from behind in the ninth, blew the lead again with two outs and two strikes in the ninth, eked out the go-ahead run in the 10th, and held on by the skin of their teeth when Shintaro Fujinami, their last remaining available reliever, picked a great night to bring his A game.

To think this was just an ordinary, 2-0 game until the seventh inning. The Birds held the lead, but barely, and they didn’t exactly look good getting there. Both runs came in the third inning against Angels starter Reid Detmers. Jorge Mateo singled, stole second, and scored on Adley Rutschman’s RBI single to left as Randal Grichuk made a terrible throw home.

On the next play, the O’s picked on Grichuk again. Ryan Mountcastle singled to left, and while Rutschman was initially held at third, he broke for the plate after Grichuk bobbled the ball. The O’s led, 2-0. Unfortunately, the Birds got overconfident in Grichuk’s inability to field his position and Mountcastle, trying to tag from first base on a routine fly to left, was thrown out at second to end the inning. There’s a TOOTBLAN if I’ve ever seen one. (TOOTBLAN, of course, stands for Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop, but in this case could also stand for The Orioles Ought To Be Less Aggressive, No?)

Bad baserunning struck again in the fourth, thwarting a potential run-scoring rally. With Austin Hays at first and one out, Jordan Westburg laced a double to the gap in right-center. The Angels got the ball back in to second base just as Hays was arriving at third, but third base coach Tony Mansolino inexplicably waved him to the plate. Wait, what?? Second baseman Brandon Drury fired to catcher Logan O’Hoppe, who waited with the ball for what felt like 10 minutes before Hays finally arrived and was tagged out. Just a terrible send, and the O’s didn’t score in the inning. A major missed opportunity there.

It was up to Dean Kremer to make the distressingly small lead stand up, and, well, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is: he didn’t give up any runs! The bad news is that he didn’t even pitch five innings. Kremer escaped jams in the second and fourth innings, but in the fifth, another Angels rally — and an inflated pitch count — brought an early end to Kremer’s night. With two outs he suddenly lost the strike zone, issuing back-to-back walks. Luis Rengifo followed with a comebacker that could’ve gotten Kremer out of the inning, but he deflected the ball into an infield single.

After 92 laborious pitches, Kremer could go no further. It’s not often a pitcher departs in the fifth inning when he’s throwing a shutout, but Kremer simply ran out of gas. He owes a Coke to Cionel Pérez, who escaped Kremer’s bases-loaded mess by retiring Mike Moustakas on a grounder.

With the bullpen pressed into duty far earlier than Brandon Hyde would’ve liked, it would have behooved the Orioles to build more than a two-run lead. They did not. Detmers, after giving up a bunch of hits early, got stronger as the game went along, keeping the Birds off the board for the rest of his outing and pitching into the seventh.

The Birds’ bullpen, meanwhile, couldn’t hold the fort. Things went wrong when Jorge López came in. You guys, it appears that returning to the Orioles has not magically cured whatever problems led to López’s 6.00 ERA for two teams this year. He was hit hard in the seventh, giving up a Nolan Schanuel single followed by a Brandon Drury double to the wall that made it 2-1.

Danny Coulombe replaced López but couldn’t strand his inherited runner. Moustakas won the lefty-on-lefty battle this time, ripping a game-tying single to right. Ugh. It sure would have been nice for the O’s to score a few more runs earlier in the game when they were blundering around the bases, huh? Gunnar Henderson made a tremendous play at third base to end the inning, but it felt like the game was slipping away from the Orioles.

The frustration only mounted in the top of the eighth when the O’s wasted a leadoff double from Anthony Santander, failing to score him. It seemed to portend disaster. Sure enough, the Angels took the lead on a two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth off Jacob Webb. Eduardo Escobar legged out a triple to the corner in right field, and pinch-hitter Trey Cabbage — his actual name — lined a 2-2 pitch into right for the go-ahead single. And the Orioles were three outs away from a frustrating defeat.

But hold on! This one wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. The O’s pulled off some Orioles Magic in the top of the ninth against Angels closer Carlos Estévez. Pinch-hitter Adam Frazier blooped a one-out double that fell just inside the left-field foul line between three fielders, and fellow pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn delivered yet another clutch hit in his season full of them, ripping an RBI single to left to plate Frazier with the tying run. Way to bounce back, Orioles! And even better, Mountcastle gave the O’s the lead two batters later with a single to plate O’Hearn. Against all odds, the Orioles were back in front, 4-3. Are you not entertained??

Well, no, I was not particularly entertained by the bottom of the ninth. With Yennier Cano unavailable after pitching two straight days, Hyde turned to DL Hall for the save chance. It did not go well for the youngster. He gave up a double to Rengifo with one out, walked Logan O’Hoppe with two outs, and — one strike away from victory — served up a sharp RBI single to center from Mickey Moniak. We’re tied again, 4-4. My goodness. This game is ludicrous. I was certain that the noted Oriole destroyer Grichuk would end the game right then and there, but Joey Krehbiel got him to pop out to strand the winning run on base.

Just what everyone on the east coast wanted, it’s an extra-inning night game in the Pacific time zone. Who needs sleep, anyway? The Orioles, fortunately, got the lead back in the top of the 10th. Hays, the free runner, advanced to third on a Henderson groundout and scored on Westburg’s high chopper to short, making it a 5-4 game.

Now Hyde’s bullpen dilemma reached its inevitable conclusion. Cano was unavailable, and Pérez, López, Coulombe, Webb, Hall, and Krehbiel had already pitched. So who’s left? That’s right: Fuji! Hyde had no choice but to turn to his least trusted reliever, Shintaro Fujinami, to try to preserve the one-run lead in the 10th (or I suppose he could’ve left Krehbiel in, but Hyde likes to live dangerously). There was no backup. The Orioles were going to win or lose this game with the notoriously hot-or-cold Fujinami on the mound. Hold on to your butts.

You guys, I’m happy to report that it was Good Fuji tonight. Escobar flied out sharply to center, which advanced Grichuk (the free runner) to third, 90 feet away from tying the game. But Fujinami left him stranded. He picked up a huge strikeout of Cabbage, firing nothing but 100-mph fastballs to blow him away. That’s some cheese for Cabbage! Then Fuji unfurled a devastating 0-2 splitter to Schanuel that he couldn’t check his swing on, putting the final out of this absurd game into the books. Fujinami clapped and bounced off the mound in triumph, while the world’s biggest Fujinami fan screamed in celebration from the stands.

It seems like I’ve said this a lot this season, but...what an amazing win. This team just keeps pulling it off, time and time again. Your 2023 Orioles, ladies and gentlemen.


Who was the Most Birdland Player for Tuesday, September 5?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Ryan O’Hearn (pinch-hit RBI single to tie the game in ninth)
    (181 votes)
  • 20%
    Ryan Mountcastle (3-for-5, go-ahead single in ninth)
    (202 votes)
  • 61%
    Shintaro Fujinami (perfect inning with two Ks for the save)
    (624 votes)
1007 votes total Vote Now