Baltimore Orioles: Pedro Alvarez leaves the Empire State in his grand wake
Next time someone asks who won the most recent New York Marathon, you can say the Baltimore Orioles – thanks to Pedro Alvarez. This is obviously a play on words, but it was Alvarez’s grand slam in the 14th inning that lifted the Birds to victory for the second consecutive game against the New York Yankees. And this time around, they may have severely wounded their opponent.
Kevin Gausman was strong for the Birds on the mound, in what seems like ages ago as the starter. Gausman’s line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K. Obviously you want your starter going deeper than that. But with how this game turned out, it was really beside the point. Especially on a night that saw New York potentially lose both Sabathia and Chapman to injury, and one in which the O’s ripped through their bullpen.
The Orioles never trailed in this game, although it sure was tied for awhile. Manny Machado‘s solo homer in the first inning gave them the lead, although NY would immediately tie it in the bottom of the inning on a Stanton sac fly-RBI. However Machado would come up again in the third, smacking his second solo homer of the game, and giving the O’s the lead back at 2-1.
But again NY matched them. Judge’s RBI-single in the bottom of that third inning would tie the game once again at two. But wouldn’t you know it, the O’s were going off the grid in this one. Chris Davis seemingly decided to apparently break his slump with his first homer of the season, a solo shot of his own in the fourth. Of course, NY would tie it with a Gregorious solo homer in the eighth – and we played on.
But let me back up for a moment. I tell people all the time that when a game goes past the 12th inning it enters the twilight zone. This game definitely went into that realm, however I think it was there well before the 12th or 13th inning. Perhaps it entered the twilight zone when Sabathia had to exit with right hip soreness. Perhaps it was when Chapman almost had to leave with an injury, potentially further taxing NY’s bullpen. But my vote is that it entered the twilight zone with a bizarre sequence in the last of the sixth.
Long story short, with one out the Orioles caught Stanton in a rundown between third and home. Sanchez, who was previously on second, took third. Stanton was then tagged out down the left field line. Again, it was a bizarre play and in reality according to MLB Rule 5.09 clause (b)(9), it should have been a double-play.
Buck Showalter actually played under protest because the O’s weren’t awarded a double-play. However the next batter grounded out harmlessly, so the protest was dropped. However the scenario laid out in the rule almost exactly describes what happened in that play. To his undying credit, crew chief Jerry Meals basically admitted to a pool reporter after the game that his crew got this one wrong (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
OK, what we had on the field, what Ronny (Kulpa) had on the field, was as soon as Stanton ran by him into foul territory there, he had him out for abandoning his effort, which gave Sánchez the base, so when they tagged him he wasn’t out. That was our explanation on the field. We were incorrect.
That just doesn’t happen, folks. Umpires normally don’t go into that much detail on rules and situations to begin with. But they rarely admit they were incorrect. Jerry Meals is a good veteran umpire, and it takes a lot of guts on his part to say that.
So in the wake of that play in the last of the 11th with two outs and the bases loaded, Mychal Givens uncorked a wild pitch – that probably should have ended the game. Gregorious came in from third, however the ball bounced off the grandstand and right back to Orioles’ catcher Caleb Joseph – who flipped the ball towards Givens who was trying to cover the plate.
Givens blocked the plate masterfully like an old school catcher, disallowing Gregorious from touching it. Gregorious was called out, however the play was reviewed. We know that catchers aren’t allowed to block the plate…but are pitchers? Rule 6.01 covers blocking the plate, but makes no mention of a pitcher. The call was correctly upheld, and we played on.
But what would a long night that had just about every twist and turn in the world be without a grand finish. And Pedro Alvarez gave us that, with a grand slam in the 14th inning to lift the O’s to victory. And in “grand style” at that!
This game for some reason reminded me of the 2012 18-inning win at Fenway that has Chris Davis as the winning pitcher. Ultimately it was a wild game that sprang a life of it’s own, and it took heroics from an unlikely source for the Birds to win it. On a side note, make no mistake about the fact that the Orioles heavily taxed NY’s pitching, especially their bullpen. The Orioles’ pen was used heavily as well, but New York had to use theirs for longer and more in depth. That aside, I suppose that both teams could make roster moves in their bullpens before today’s game.
The teams will get right back at it this afternoon with a matinee at Yankee Stadium. Chris Tillman gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by NY’s Sonny Gray. Game time is set for just after 1 PM.