Baltimore Orioles win a donnybrook behind Austin Hays’ heroics

Keegan Akin struggled a bit for the Baltimore Orioles tonight against Pittsburgh in Sarasota. But it was far from a pitcher’s type of game to begin with. Just about every pitcher on both sides saw struggles in this game. Akin’s line: 2.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K.

Pittsburgh put two runs on the board in the first with an RBI-single and an RBI-double. But let’s go back to that RBI-single for a moment; Pittsburgh had two runners in scoring position. So that should have scored two runs…

…however the single went to right field. And Austin Hays came up throwing, nailing the trail runner at home plate. That’s the sort of thing that doesn’t stand out in a box score, but can be the difference between winning and losing. Hays would also pull a similar stunt to end the third inning, on what should have been a sac fly. Instead, Hays nailed the runner at the plate, ending the inning.

Pittsburgh would get a third run on an RBI-double in the second. But then the O’s started the comeback. Pedro Severino‘s RBI-single in the last of the second cut the lead to 3-1. Trey Mancini would tie the game at three with a two-RBI double.

But the O’s weren’t done yet in the second inning. Ryan Mountcastle strode to the plate with two on, and promptly sent a three-run homer over the center field fence. That have the Birds a short-lived lead, as Pittsburgh would tie it up again in the third. And that brings me back to Hays ending the third with a double-play once again. That rightfully should have given Pittsburgh the lead. However it kept the game tied at six. In a regular season game, that’s a massive moment, which again doesn’t show up on the line score.

And Hays still wasn’t done. In the last of the fourth his three-run homer out the O’s back in the lead at 9-6. While Pittsburgh would get a run back in the seventh, Pedro Severino would add an insurance run in the seventh with an RBI-double, and Pittsburgh would put two across in the eighth. This, and of course Hays’ heroics, closed out a 10-9 win for the Birds.

This might have been the best individual game performance of the spring for the Orioles. Maybe even in the entire Grapefruit League this year. As I said above, these are key factors in games that can often make a difference between a win and a loss. If Hays goes on to dazzle in this manner this season, remember this game in the spring.

Earlier this morning the Orioles selected P Matt Harvey‘s contract and put him on the 40-man roster. Harvey of course signed a minor league contract with the team, and is now assured of going north once camp breaks. So he’ll be on the roster on April 1st in Boston.

The O’s will head to Tampa tomorrow night to take on the New York Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field. Jorge Lopez gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Gerrit Cole. Game time is set for just after 6:30 PM.

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