Thomas Eshelman got the start last night for the Baltimore Orioles…”deep in the heart of Texas.” Starting in Houston is a tough task, but Eshelman pitched really well – aside from being squeezed several times. And given that his opposite number was Houston’s Greinke, the O’s themselves had a tall task. Eshelman’s line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 0 K.
The Birds took a 1-0 lead in the third on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI-single. Tucker’s sac fly-RBI one inning later would tie the game, and Altuve would later walk with the bases loaded to give Houston a 2-1 lead. However the inning should have been over. Eshelman walked Maldonado to load the bases prior to being pulled. But what was called ball four looked an awful lot like strike three. As I said above, Eshelman got squeezed.
At that point if you’re Houston (a contender), you’re thinking that all’s right with the world. They took an early lead, but now you have the lead and things are as they should be. But Ryan Mountcastle put them on notice not to get too comfortable. His two-run homer in the fifth have the Orioles the lead back at 3-2.
The teams would trade runs in the seventh, but Houston would also put an additional run on the board that inning on a walk with the bases loaded. Tying the game at four, again Houston had to be feeling that things were put back the right way. But the Orioles were poised to pounce, much in the manner that team such as Houston normally do to them.
Austin Hays had already earned his keep for the day when he brought an apparent home run back (recording an out) early in the game in right field. But his two-run homer in the ninth gave the Orioles a 6-4 lead. Pedro Severino would add a two-RBI double, and Ramon Urias would add an RBI-double of his own. This appeared to end the game, blasting Houston into space when it counted.
But as I said above regarding Houston, you never want to get too comfortable. Houston put three runs back on the board in the last of the ninth. Ultimately they weren’t able to come all the way back, but would anyone have put it past them to have done so? Either way, the O’s took the series opener, 9-7. A well-earned victory over a championship-caliber opponent at their place – “deep in the heart of Texas.”
The series continues this evening at Minute Maid Park. The O’s have yet to announce a starter, but whomever he is he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Jose Urquidy. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.