The Orioles are now 9-2 in extra-innings, winning their franchise-record 9th straight extra-inning game Sunday at Camden Yards against the Phillies, 5-4. The day after Adam Jones’ walk-off home run gave the birds a 6-4 win in 12, the Orioles had perhaps some fate on their side in the bottom of the 10th Sunday—one of their fastest runners was on first (Jones), their hottest hitter was at the plate (Matt Wieters), and Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence completely misplayed a fly ball off the scoreboard.
The Orioles had to take a rather precarious route to even get to that point, however. Jason Hammel, who’s been the Orioles most reliable starting pitcher here in 2012, didn’t have his usual sharpness, and it was evident early on. The Phillies loaded the bases against him with just 1-out in the first, on a walk, a single, and a hit batter. But Hammel was able to escape the inning, getting Shane Victorino to pop out to third baseman Steve Tolleson, and striking out Carlos Ruiz on a nasty curve ball.
The Orioles put together a run-scoring rally with 2-outs in their half of the 1st. Jones and Wieters delivered back-to-back hits, and Ronny Paulino, starting behind the plate and batting fifth because of good career numbers against Phillies starter Cliff Lee, delivered Jones with a single to left.
The Phillies would not be denied in the 2nd. With the bases loaded, Pence delivered a 2-out, 2-run single to center. Veteran Jim Thome followed that with a run scoring, opposite field hit, making it 3-1, Philadelphia. Hammel walked Victorino, loading the bases yet again. But Hammel was able to induce Ruiz into a force out, escaping further trouble.
After 3-up, 3-down inning in the 3rd, The Phillies went back to work against Hammel in the 4th. Juan Pierre singled with one out, then stole 2nd. Pence walked, and an out later, Victorino took ball four, again loading the bases. Pitching to Ruiz, Hammel bounced one that Paulino actually did a decent job of keeping close. But the speedy Pierre was able to get to the plate on the wild pitch, and the Phillies had a 4-1 lead.
But in the bottom of the 4th, Phils ace lefthander Lee would find himself in the middle of a roster battle between two Orioles, both fighting to keep their spots in Baltimore when Brian Roberts rejoins the team. Player number one, Steve Pearce, fueled the rally with a 2-out double, advancing Mark Reynolds, who’d walked, to 3rd. And player number two, Tolleson, launched his 2nd home run of the season, a blast down the left field line, to tie things at 4.
Both Hammel and Lee would settle down after that, with Hammel retiring the last 7 Phillies he faced before being lifted for Troy Patton. Again, the bullpen completely shut the door on Philadelphia, with Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day (4-0) following Patton’s 2 shutout innings in similar fashion.
In the Orioles 10th, Jones led off against Phils lefty Joe Savery (0-1),reaching on third baseman Ty Wigginton’s error. Up stepped Wieters, the birds’ hottest bat, and already 2-for-3 on the day. He fell behind Savery 0-2, and Phillies catcher Ruiz called for a waste pitch up and away. But the pitch caught too much of the plate, and Wieters skied one toward the right field scoreboard. Pence never looked like he was in command of the fly ball, instead drifting for it. In the end, with his back already up against the scoreboard, he made an awkward lunge to his left, and missed what was a very catchable ball. The carom off the scoreboard carried the ball into shallow right, and by the time Pence tracked it down, Jones was well on his way to scoring, and giving the Orioles their second straight walk off win.
The birds get a day off Monday, and welcome the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates–32-27 and just half a game behind the NL Central leading Reds–to Camden Yards Tuesday, the day Roberts is expected to be activated for the first time in over a year. Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 3.49) goes for the Orioles, against Brad Lincoln (3-1, 2.40). Game time is 7:05.
- Wieters is one of the hottest hitters in the American League right now, in a 14-for-36 stretch with 5 RBIs in his last 9 games.
- While Hammel struggled, the fact that he was able to complete 6 innings before turning things over to a tired bullpen can’t be understated. Back-to-back extra-inning games in the heat could have been devastating, especially considering Jake Arrieta’s status, had Hammel (and Hunter Saturday) not delivered clutch innings.
- The Orioles continue to get big contributions from surprising places. Sunday, Paulino, Pearce, and of course, Tolleson all came up huge.
- The birds got another terrific day for the pen. Patton, Johnson, O’Day combined for 4 shutout innings on 2 hits and no walks.
- Great to see huge crowds at Camden Yards this weekend, especially with the O’s winning 2 of 3.
- With back-to-back walk off wins and the Orioles just a game behind division leading Tampa Bay, about the only thing we can point to is that all of the teams in the AL East won today, except the last-place Red Sox. The Rays finished a sweep of Miami, and the Yankees swept the Mets this weekend.