Seth Smith began and finished Wednesday’s 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays with a a little drama. The first batter of the game sent a liner to right field, which Smith appeared not to see very well. After an awkward approach, he fielded the ball on a hop, and fired it back into the infield. I remember thinking at the time “yikes, that was dicey for a moment there.”
Things were also dicey in the bottom of the eleventh inning, when Smith came to the plate with the bases loaded in a tied game. The Orioles, attempting to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, had been unable to muster much offensive production, despite totaling 12 hits on the evening. Smith wouldn’t need to add a thirteenth – he took a four-pitch walk from Alex Colome, and, uh… walked it off.
Sounds cool, right?
That is nothing compared to Smith’s first at-bat, leading off the bottom of the first inning.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) April 27, 2017
OK, here’s the version you want:
Here is the little league home run set to Yakety Sax pic.twitter.com/u2tKGL5Key
— woo baseball (@NaturallyKatz) April 27, 2017
Yeah. You can call that a single, after which Smith advanced to second on an error by the center fielder, then scored on an error by the pitcher. But we all know what we saw: that was a little league home run. He started the at-bat at the plate, and ended at the plate. That’s a home run. Because I want it to be so. Extra orange slices for Seth Smith!
In a game dominated by Smith-related weirdness and extra-inning drama, it’s easy to forget that Dylan Bundy put in another impressive performance. Bundy appeared not to have his best stuff. Many pointed to the radar gun, and wondered by his fastball hovered in the 89-90 range. He may not have lit up the radar gun, but he got the job done, putting in 6.1 innings and allowing two runs. His only mistakes were solo home runs to Tim Beckham.
And let’s talk about that for a second. Tim Beckham, go away. Beckham hit two no-doubter solo home runs to left, and tacked on a double, later in the game. He had himself, as it’s described in baseball parlance, a day.
Another pitching appearance worth noting is that of Darren O’Day. O’Day entered the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, and the Orioles clinging to a one-run lead. Mychal Givens allowed a lead-off double, and Donnie Hart warmed up the situation by hitting and then walking a batter in succession. O’Day returned the Orioles to the dugout having surrendered a single run.
Back on the offensive side, make no mistake that Mark Trumbo is cold at the plate. Ice cold. The only Oriole not to tally a hit, Trumbo came up with chances to impact the game. With runners on in four of his five at-bats, his magnus opus came in the eighth, when he struck out with runners of first and second with nobody out. Trumbo has got to get right. This winning without/despite him thing is not a winning formula for the Orioles.
Speaking of “not a winning formula,” how wrong could I have been?
Also, hitting a batter with two outs in a two-strike count is a not a winning strategy.
— Bird's Eye View (@BirdsEyeViewBal) April 27, 2017
Alec Asher showed me up – hitting Shane Peterson with two outs in a two-strike count, then giving up a go-ahead run on a Jesus Sucre flare to right field. And then getting credit for the dang win, at the end of the ballgame. C’mon, Orioles: I look dumb enough on my own. You don’t have to add fuel to the fire.
The game was not perfect. It was another Orioles ugly win, but a win nonetheless. Put another Bird on the win column, and worry about how to score more style points in the next one. The O’s may be looking at their 14-6 record through smoke and mirrors, but it is a far better option than limping into New York after suffering their first series loss of the 2017 season.