The Baltimore Orioles have had a way of having nearly everything go wrong that could go wrong thus far in 2018. Granted they’ve usually not helped their own cause by controlling what they could control, their luck has usually had a way of being poor. That trend in fact continued last night – it wasn’t technically until early this morning when things turned. And that occurred when Manny Machado stepped to the plate in the 15th inning.
Alex Cobb gave the Orioles yet another quality start, yet wasn’t rewarded with a win. Cobb’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Cobb’s had a rough first half, but he’s also looking like he’s turned a corner. And that’s why I think things could be slightly different for this team in the second half, because the starting pitching has really started to come together in the last month – win or lose. That’s not to say they can get back in the race, but I think things will improve.
We also saw the return of Chris Davis after eight games on the bench. Davis had reportedly been working on a few different approaches over that time. Whatever he was doing seemed to work, as he broke out of his drought and smacked a solo homer in the fifth to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Atlanta would tie it in the seventh on an RBI-double by Camargo, and then take a 2-1 lead on another RBI-double by Culberson in the eighth.
Atlanta had their closer on in the ninth, but keep in mind that the Orioles still had three outs with which to work. Danny Valencia‘s RBI-single tied the game at two, making it a new ballgame. And we thought the Orioles were ending the game as we spoke at that moment. The Birds took the lead later in the inning on Jonathan Schoop‘s RBI-double. Chris Davis added a sac fly, followed by an RBI-double by Caleb Joseph. Steve Wilkerson‘s first big league hit and RBI came in the form of a double in that ninth inning, followed by an RBI-single by Craig Gentry.
When the smoke cleared, the Birds had a 7-3 lead. They appeared poised to win this game over the upstart Atlanta Braves. But then the last of the ninth hit. Atlanta took it all back, plating four runs in the inning to tie it at seven. And into extra’s we went.
Throwing the records and what’s at stake out, the Orioles were the definite underdog going into extra innings. They had just played a late game in Washington on Thursday, and had some travel issues which didn’t get them into Atlanta until about 4 AM on Friday. Yet they battled on into and through extra innings.
I always say that once a game gets past twelve innings it goes into the twilight zone. Strange things start happening. But seeing that as this conventional Orioles team has seen no sunshine yet this year and watched teams who don’t do things so conventionally find ways to beat them, perhaps they needed a few strange things to happen. And by strange, I mean that they somehow found the clutch gene once again.
With Gentry already on base, Machado came to bat and sent a deep shot to left in the top of the 15th. While Atlanta had to come to bat in the bottom of the inning, the game effectively ended at that moment. And just for good measure, Schoop added an RBI-single giving the O’s a 10-7 lead – and a 10-7 win.
Win or lose, the fact that this game went into the 15th inning and featured a 9th inning that saw the teams combine for ten runs made it the most wild game of the year thus far. And in many cases it’s games such as this one which is why people come to the ballpark in the first place. But after playing 15 innings, the Orioles quite simply stated, that’s it for now…on the twilight zone.
With everything else that happened in this game, I don’t want the fact that Steve Wilkerson had a great moment to get lost. Your first big league hit is a notable moment, but his came in the form of an RBI-double which was a part of a major ninth inning rally as well. Nice moment for a promising young player who looks to be aiming to stay at this level.