Baltimore Orioles: Kyle Stowers’ first homer couldn’t come at a better time

The Baltimore Orioles sent Jordan Lyles to the mound last night in hopes of winning the series with the ChiSox. He started off in the most inauspicious manner possible – by giving up a solo homer on the first pitch. But he also set the tone in hopes that Oriole bars could pick him up. Lyles’ line: 7.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R (1 earned), 0 BB, 2 K.

Vaughn hit the first pitch of the game out of the ballpark. So the O’s found themselves in an early hole. However Anthony Santander’s two-run homer in the last of the first gave the Orioles the lead at 2-1. This foreshadowed Chicago being reminded that no matter what, you NEVER count these Birds out so long as there’s game left to play.

The Orioles’ lead held until the seventh inning. Terrin Vavra’s errant throw on a routine play allowed a run to score, tying the game at two. I’ve said this a million times (both on runs the Orioles score and runs scored by the opponent), but when you get guys on base things can happen. One inning later in the eighth Chicago took the lead back at 3-2 on Abreu’s RBI-single.

We went to the last of the ninth with the Birds still trailing 3-2. This was a huge game given the playoff standings (the O’s entered the game three games out of a wild card spot behind Seattle). And with the O’s heading to Houston this weekend, you’d hate to have dropped two-of-three at home to Chicago. But it looked like things were trending in that direction.

Kyle Stowers came to the plate with two outs in the ninth. The rookie was just looking to get on base. But instead he added his name to a long list of Orioles who historically have left their mark on opponents by coming through in the clutch. This phenomenon is best known as Orioles Magic.

Stowers didn’t just “get on base” to extend the game. Instead he picked the most opportune moment possible to smack his first career home run, tying the game at three. A player’s first career home run is always exciting. But how often does it occur in such a clutch moment in such a huge game? That’s about as clutch as you’re going to get.

Adding to the legend of the story was the fact that the Birds won the thing on a run-scoring single by Anthony Santander in the 11th. And the O’s moved to within 2.5 games of the final wild card spot. Oh and they thrilled the fans once again. Big time.

Perhaps the most striking part of the Stowers home run was what happened two pitches earlier. Chicago had brought in Engel as a defensive replacement in left field. Stowers appeared to have ended the game by sending a foul pop down the left field line. It was a fairly routine play…but Engel dropped it. The game would have been over, but Engel dropped the ball. And Stowers went on to hit that home run, that few in Birdland will ever forget.

The O’s now head to Houston for the first of a three-game series tonight at Minute Maid Park. Kyle Bradish gets the start for the O’s, and he’ll be opposed by Houston’s Lance McCullers. Game time is set for just after 8 PM.

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