Baltimore Orioles willed to victory by Chris Davis – in the twilight zone

The Baltimore Orioles went onto victory last night (or should I say eary this morning) squarely on the bat of Chris Davis. However this game in Detroit entered what I call the twilight zone, which is my term for games which go past twelve innings. And don’t tell me that the theme music from the show isn’t reverberating in your head now that you’ve read this!

Wade Miley put the Orioles in a spot to win last night, but Detroit had already started it’s comeback prior to his departure. Miley’s line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 3 K. Part of the recent issues with the bullpen are that starters aren’t going deep into games. Miley ends up throwing a lot of pitches (partially due to guys fouling balls off), which makes for exists after five innings. And that affects the bullpen.

Miley allowed a run on a fielder’s choice in the first, but the O’s tied it in the third on a solo homer by J.J. Hardy. Then Oriole bats exploded. Manny Machado‘s RBI-double later in the inning gave the O’s a 2-1 lead, which went up to 3-1 after another RBI-double by Chris Davis. Tack on an RBI-single by Castillo, and the Birds held a 5-1 lead.

That lead actually grew by two more runs after an infield RBI-single by Mancini, and Hardy grounding into a force out which scored a run. So when the smoke cleared after the top of the third, the O’s led 7-1. Comfortable lead, right? Well sometimes you have to tip your cap to the other guy too, because they can also score runs. Martinez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to 7-3, which was followed by a solo homer by J.D. Martinez. Again, when the smoke cleared the O’s led 7-4.

And that’s how Miley left things. But the Oriole ‘pen showed it’s wear once again. Mychal Givens loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, and the Orioles went to Brad Brach. The first hitter he saw was J.D. Martinez, who promptly gave Detroit the lead with a grand slam. And just like that, the Orioles trailed.

One positive about the Oriole bullpen in this game was Darren O’Day, who pitched for the first time in a week. He sent Detroit down 1-2-3 in the eighth, and looked crisp in doing so. The Birds were unable to muster much of a rally after that grand slam. It appeared that it would go down as another gut-wrenching loss in which they had pulled defeat from the jaws of victory. But this game was destined to enter the twilight zone…wild things were about to happen!

The Orioles couldn’t muster a rally – until two outs in the ninth inning. When you’re down by one all it takes is one swing of the bat. And the Orioles got that one swing from Mark Trumbo, who’s solo homer with two down saved the Orioles from a loss for the moment. It tied the game and sent it to extras.

So with the Birds having new life, onward we played. And as I said above, it was Chris Davis who was the big hero. But in true hero fashion, he had to do it twice. He led off the top of the twelfth with a solo home run, which gave the O’s a 9-8 lead. The O’s would tack on two more runs in the inning as Hardy would ground into a force out that scored a run, and Jones would add an RBI-single.

The Davis homer alone felt like the fatal blow, but the O’s were feeling pretty good about themselves after a three-run twelfth. The issue was that Detroit wasn’t about to go quietly. Would you believe that they came back to tie it in the last of the twelfth?! Three RBI-singles will do that to you, and we played on…into the twilight zone.

But luckily we didn’t have to play deep into the twilight zone, but we were certainly there. And what better way to get out of the twilight zone than with another home run by Chris Davis? This one, in the top of the thirteenth and of the two-run variety, was the fatal blow. Thus it propelled the Birds to a 13-11 victory in the motor city.

Whatever rest the bullpen might have gotten with an off day Monday was probably spent last night. Showalter indicated after the game that more roster moves are coming today, and I would bet that the bullpen will figure into that somehow. The Orioles were a heartbeat away from having to send a starter in last night, which is liable to happen when you play games in the twilight zone.

But at the end of the day (or perhaps more poignantly at the beginning of the day since the game ended well after midnight), a win’s a win. And especially when you’ve lost a few games straight, you take wins however you can get them. Despite the recent bullpen struggles, we saw the resiliency of this Orioles team in this game.

The series continues tonight at Comerica Park in Detroit. Ubaldo Jimenez (who was almost spent last night) heads to the mound, and he’ll be opposed by Detroit’s Michael Fulmer. Game time is set for just after 7 PM. And that’s all for now…on the twilight zone.

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