BALTIMORE – The Orioles suffered their second consecutive eleven-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox. In Monday’s game, the heartbreak came in the form of failing to win a game in which the offense scored seven runs. In Tuesday’s contest, the heartbreak was a result of the Orioles’ offense failing to show up. This team, if nothing else, is versatile.
OK, here’s the good news: Kevin Gausman was simply excellent. The bad news is just about everything else.
The game began perfectly, as Gausman tossed 4.2 perfect innings before allowing a loud Rafael Devers single off the right field scoreboard. The Orioles right-hander ended his day with 106 pitches, spreading three hits and a walk over eight innings. He had everything working: fastball command, a filthy splitter, and the occasional slider, which provided an additional look and found its way to the strike zone.
Now, on to everything else. The Orioles had their chances. Manny Machado doubled in the third inning, but was gunned down at the plate by a strong throw from Andrew Benintendi. Chris Davis was robbed of a home run by Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth inning. Say what you will about Davis’ approach of late (and I have), but he was a very good play by a very good player away from heroics.
Outside of that, Orioles fans looking for something positive can point to the fact that Austin Hays continued to justify his presence in the lineup (by way of a fifth inning double), and that Trey Mancini hit two balls to the warning track. If, dear reader, you conclude that this is little solace, you are not mistaken.
The Birds’ offense got quiet after the fifth, with contributions from only Adam Jones from that point forward. Jones ended the fifth on third base (having walked, advanced on a Mancini single, and stolen third). In the six innings that followed, Jones reached base on a HBP in the eighth, and a two-base error in the eleventh.
No one else did much of anything. It would have been accurate to say the game ended with a whimper, if not for the vocal support of the Boston fans.
And they did enjoy themselves. After watching the Orioles pitching staff dominate, then wriggle out of occasional trouble, Boston fans watched Brad Brach unravel in his second inning of relief. Brach allowed a leadoff single, then a pair of two-out walks, before uncorking a wild pitch that allowed the game’s only run to score.
A close game with a disappointing end. But the disappointment could not be that great, could it? At 73-79, there can be no question what the Orioles will be doing in October. They will be rooting against the Red Sox in the playoffs, like the rest of us.
So, we can either sulk through the remainder of the Orioles schedule, or we can soak up the last bit of baseball 2017 has to offer us. Think about it: these are the last of the care-free games. In 2018, there will be no more chances. It will be do or goodbye for the Orioles, their talented core, and their playoff hopes. And with that outlook, what did we see this evening?
A very entertaining game. I love games like this. Sure, offense is fun. Who can deny the sheer joy of the dongfest that was the Cal Statue Game, or the 60th Anniversary game against the Cardinals? Was there anything more satisfying than the Orioles 2015 18-7 beat down of the Red Sox I get it. But games in which runs come at a premium transform the game from one of pure power to one of finesse all-out desperation. Don’t blink, because every detail matters. Each pitch, each change in positioning, each deep breath in the batter’s box.
The O’s lost. There’s no lipstick to slap on that pig. But as the season grows short, stealing a couple of extra innings of fun baseball is a marginal consolation. There are no moral victories in in this game, but I won’t be getting October baseball, so I’ll take what I can get.