It's Raining Magic 4/10 O's win 8-5
Written by Mike Laws
Five-run ninth gets O’s off the schnide
Orioles 8, Red Sox 5
I say, forget the Chris Davis bomb to dead center to get the Orioles within one in the bottom of the ninth. Forget Ryan Flaherty, back against the wall in probably more ways than one, singling to left for his first hit of the season, keeping the dream alive. Forget Nate McLouth, for the third time in the ballgame, falling behind 1-and-2 but yet somehow still summoning the patience to work a walk. Forget Manny Machado turning on a Joel Hanrahan fastball inside, walloping a no-doubter over Fenway’s famous Monster to restore a lead the O’s had relinquished some three hours earlier.
I’m saying, let’s strip away all the grit and determination and can’t-roll-over, never-say-die attitude and tough-as-nails late at-bats — all the hard work, in other words, that went into mounting this furious ninth-inning comeback — and just all agree that this was karmic retribution against a particularly obnoxious Boston crowd (or at least, the few hangers-on who loitered around officially-not-sold-out Fenway following a 41-minute rain delay). Maybe the chowderheads think twice next time, before making with the derisive chants.
Anyway, on to the bullet points!
- Will the real Jake Arrieta please stand up? Lost in all the late-inning drama was what an up-and-down, now-he’s-got-it-now-he-doesn’t performance this had been by the Baltimore starter. A tantalizingly efficient one-two-three first gave way to a second in which Arrieta recorded two relatively quick outs before yielding a walk on four pitches to Oriole-masher Daniel Nava and then an 0-2 double off the Monster to Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (also, apparently, as we’d see over the course of this game, an Oriole-killer). Arrieta proceeded to walk three more Boston batsmen in his next half-inning of work, including leadoff man Jackie Bradley Jr. — a problem, because Bradley would come around to score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s triple past a (foolishly) diving McLouth in left, and then Ellsbury would come in to score on a sac-fly. But then the weirdest thing was how Arrieta induced a rally-ending 4-6-3 double play to avoid further trouble, in the Red Sox third — and then looked more or less fine, over his final two innings of work, coughing up only another Saltalamacchia double, in the fourth. His fifth inning was particularly noteworthy, especially in light of the hard rain slashing across the field at Fenway; had the Red Sox scored, the speculation went, the umps might’ve called a rain delay from which they’d be in something less than a hurry to return, what with the game being official by that point. Arrieta went down 3-0 to leadoff man Ellsbury, in that half-inning, then rallied to get the speedy center fielder on a groundout to first; he then popped Victorino up to short on a single pitch, and rung up the ever-dangerous Dustin Pedroia on three pitches.
- Meanwhile, the Oriole offense had taken advantage of a pair of outfield errors — uncharacteristic, given the vaunted defense out there (particularly with Bradley patrolling left) — to claw its way back into the ballgame. Having come out against Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster in aggressive fashion in the first — a walk to McLouth followed by a two-base error on a Machado fly to deep right followed by a run-scoring groundout to first by Nick Markakis — the Orioles had fallen mostly silent until their half of the fourth, when Markakis lined a leadoff dinger into the Boston bullpen in right-center, Adam Jones stroked a two-strike splitter into center and advanced on a wild pitch, and Matt Wieters singled to left-center. Wieters actually swatted his inside-out base knock with enough zip on it that Jones was originally instructed to hold at third; but then Bradley, apparently in a hurry despite this fact, mishandled the ball, allowing Jones to come on in. A soggy night at Fenway that winds up benefiting the away team — who’d’ve thunk? Anyway, the Orioles would take it, and this one was knotted at 3.
- And that’s how it would stay through five and into that eminently predictable rain delay, thanks to the aforementioned commendable bounce-back performance of one Jacob Joseph Arrieta. But here’s where things got dicey, if not downright bleak. After being held silent in their half by old friend Koji Uehara, the Birds turned to heat-slinging Tommy Hunter for relief. And sling some heat he did. And that’s about all he did, against all five batters he faced. It worked against Mike Napoli, who went down swinging on a 3-2 fastball. It worked against Will Middlebrooks, who did likewise on the eleventh pitch of an epic at-bat that also featured (count ’em) eight Hunter deliveries fouled away. And then it very assuredly did not work against (who else?) Nava, who homered over the Monster in left, or against (yup) Saltimbocca — I mean, Saltalamacchia — who sat dead-read on the cheese and absolutely crushed it, Chris Davis-uppercut-style, over the bullpen in right. BoSox 5, O’s 3, after six.
- Which is how it’d remain, for a while, given the untouchability displayed by relievers Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey (for Boston) and Troy Patton and Darren O’Day (for Baltimore). With eight in the books and the score on the board unchanged, the Birds appeared to be dead in the water; indeed, in innings five through eight, the Sox allowed only one baserunner, that on a walk to McLouth. And prior to that walk, they’d retired eleven Oriole batsmen in order.
- Ah, but then Davis, Flaherty, McLouth and Machado did their thing. Skipper Buck Showalter gets credit, too, for pinch-running the fleet Alexi Casilla for the less-fleet Flaherty — as well as for the somewhat gutsy decision to have Casilla attempt a steal (it’d prove successful) that might’ve taken the bat out of the hands of Nolan Reimold (who walked on four pitches, following the steal). The decision paid off again when, after McLouth also walked, Hanrahan uncorked another Boston wild pitch, permitting the rarin’-to-go Casilla to come in from third and tie this one up. And then, of course, Machado swatted his big fly out to left and made the whole thing more or less academic anyway.
AND A PARTING THOUGHT: I guess we shouldn’t discount the circumstance — going up against a deflated Boston team at the end of a game they suddenly found themselves losing by three, not to mention a game that featured a not-inconsiderable rain delay — but Jim Johnson looked right as rain (so to speak) in the ninth, unleashing a potent admixture of upper-80s drop-off-the-table splitters and low-to-mid-90s fastballs that visibly dipped and darted and ran, even on TV. The big man looked good; an encouraging sign, for sure.
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