Baltimore Orioles: Fifth inning did the Birds in

I’m not sure how many times I’ve said that when the Baltimore Orioles don’t take what’s theirs, other teams have no problem doing it. The Birds led 4-1 in the fifth last night in D.C. And it wasn’t the four-run fifth off of starter David Hess which cost them the game. Hess’ line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 2 K.

Granted Hess gave it all back at once, and that didn’t help. However the Orioles had the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the fifth. They were facing a pitcher just up from the minor leagues who appeared on the ropes. Yes they had a three-run lead, which is fairly sizable. However a big inning would have effectively ended the game. Instead, the Orioles settled for one run. And that one run came on a double-play ball. THAT’S what lost them last night’s game. They left the door open just a bit, and sure enough they had an opponent in Washington who managed to wiggle through.

Now there were some very good points to this game for the O’s, namely that the bats really churned out some big hits and some runs – even with the inability to get the clutch hit there in the fifth. With Washington leading 1-0 after a Turner solo homer, Jace Peterson gave the Orioles the lead at 2-1 with a two-run homer. Peterson’s bat has started to heat up of late, which could do wonders for the batting order overall from the top of the lineup.

The Birds extended their lead to 4-1 two innings later on Mark Trumbo‘s two-run shot, his second homer in as many games. And yes the O’s took it one step further an inning later as Manny Machado grounded into a run-scoring double-play in the aforementioned scenario. But again, with things going the way they have this year, that’s a situation in which the Orioles absolutely have to bust the game open. In fact, by scoring that one run in perhaps the most meager of fashions, the Orioles actually allowed Washington to take momentum by pitching out of that situation.

And in fact, Washington got to Hess in the bottom of that fifth inning. They managed to load the bases, granted on a couple of softly hit balls and walks. And in their bases loaded nobody out situation, they predictably weren’t as charitable as the Orioles. Eaton’s softly hit bloop two-RBI single cut the lead to 5-3, and Rendon’s sac fly-RBI cut it to 5-4. Washington would tie it at five on Harper’s RBI-double.

But again, the bats did come alive in this game. The O’s fought back, which in the long run is good to see. Corban Joseph plated a run in the sixth on a force play, but one inning later Rendon’s two-RBI double did the Orioles in for good. Washington would put four runs across in the last of the seventh, and when the smoke cleared they led the Orioles 9-6. Joey Rickard would add a solo homer in the ninth to cut the final to 9-7.

Again, your opponents get fat and happy on what you leave behind. As soon as the Orioles only got one run in that top of the fifth, I made a mental note in saying that their inability to get a clutch hit could come back and haunt them. And it did. On Sunday they rose up and forcibly took what was theirs (against Miami). Last night they aw shucks’d their way out of it, and Washington took it from them.

Buck Showalter did mention after the game how it seemed that few if any of Washington’s hits in that fifth inning were squared up, and one of the things to which he attributed it to was the fact that Hess had to swing the bat. They all count, but it hurts just a bit more when someone’s bleeding you to death (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

I’m not taking credit (away), but I think there was eight hits that weren’t hit hard at all that kind of trickled through. It’s just one of those things where everything that if they did get hits, they seemed to have found holes. They hit some balls hard, too. I thought he (Hess) was the victim of a lot of that, too. The game’s not always fair.

You are looking for reasons why, we always do. He was on the bases twice on a sticky night. Stuff-wise, he’s one of our best-conditioned guys. I don’t think that was it. It just got away from him. Some of the good pitches he made ended up going for base hits. Some things are just not fair sometimes.

The series continues this evening from Nationals Park. Andrew Cashner will be called up off the DL to make the start, and he’ll be opposed by Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. Game time is set for just after 7 PM.

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