John Means showed the world why he was the Baltimore Orioles’ All-Star representative this evening. Means pitched the Birds to a quality start, and quite frankly should have been the winner. Means’ line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 earned), 0 BB, 5 K.
Tampa took a 1-0 lead as they netted a run in the third on a Rio Ruiz error. If you’re an Orioles fan you had to be thinking here we go. However the O’s came back and immediately got the lead. None other than Rio Ruiz smacked a fourth inning three-run homer, and the Birds led 3-1.
But the bottom of the fourth brought Tampa a bit closer on a Brosseau home run. Two innings later they tied the game at three on Garcia’s RBI-single. That’s generally how Tampa does the Orioles; they sit back and look for the smallest glint of daylight whereby they can get a run across, and they go for it.
And it usually works. As an example, after Means had exited and Mychal Givens had entered the game in the eighth, Diaz hit what could have been a fielder’s choice-RBI on a swinging bunt (with a runner on third). Generally that would net a run for Tampa – especially against the Orioles. But Givens was able to tag the runner out from third, preserving the tie. That was one indication that perhaps the tides were turning.
Pedro Severino came up in a similar situation in the top of the ninth. (For the record, the runner was in scoring position due to a Rio Ruiz sac bunt. Ruiz was a huge player in tonight’s game.) However on his swinging bunt (to short) the runner was able to slide in under the tag. Things don’t normally work out that way for the Orioles against Tampa. But there they were, leading 4-3.
Jonathan Villar would extend that lead to 5-3 on an RBI-triple that made it all the way to the wall. Again, usually it’s a Tampa hit just making it under the fielder’s mitt and going all the way to the wall. But tonight it was an Oriole who did it against Tampa.
Trey Mancini would later hit you into what would have been an fielder’s choice and an out. However another run was able to score on an errant throw home, giving the O’s a 6-3 lead. But they weren’t done.
Renato Nunez would come to bat with two runners on, and smack a three-run homer, giving the O’s a 9-3 lead. Now Tampa would come to bat in the last of the ninth and put three runs across, and bring the tying run to the plate. But the O’s escaped with a 9-6 victory. And it happened in a fairly savage manner as well.
Usually it’s Tampa who gets every little bounce, or finds small manners by which to score runs. But tonight that was accomplished by the Orioles. Still however, there was a moment in the end where you almost expected Tampa to walk the Orioles off. The Birds were able to record the final out before things got any closer, however where Tampa would even get the confidence to think they could come from six down in the ninth to win is beyond me. However end of the day, it was the O’s who were victorious on this night at the Trop.