The Orioles came back from a 5-3 deficit in the 9th inning behind solid at bats from Ryan Flaherty, Nolan Reimold, and Nate McLouth and big power from Chris Davis and Manny Machado. The win was enhanced by the heckling Red Sox fans, who chanted Oriole players names in the 8th and 9th inning, only for it to backfire on their team.
It was a great win, especially after Tommy Hunter had given up two solo home runs in the 6th inning. Boston’s bullpen, behind former Oriole Koji Uehara, Junichi Tozawa, and Andrew Bailey made quick work of the Orioles offense in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. Despite the good feel of a win off a closer, it’s still only game 8 of the 162 game season. You can’t really get a good feel for a team until late July or early August, unless the losses pile up so quickly that contention is laughable by the end of May.
Last nights game felt very similiar to game 10 of the 2012 season. Trailing the Chicago White Sox on the road 4-2 in the 9th inning, Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones hit solo home runs to get the game to extra innings. In the 10th, Matt Wieters delivered a grand slam to give the Orioles the 10-4 victory. This was in the middle of a three city, cross country road trip that ended with the O’s going 6-4 after opening the season 3-3 at home.
Paul and I have a vivid memory of this game, but for the wrong reason. With an 8 pm CST start time and the Orioles playing slugglishly throughout the first seven innings, we decided to go to sleep and avoid being too overly tired in the morning due to an Orioles loss. When I was getting dressed for work the next morning, Paul asked me if I saw that we had won. I thought he was joking but it was true and kick started the slow morning into a productive work day. It was the last time we would miss a late inning of an Orioles game in 2012, regardless of the score.
It felt like deja-vu last night, but without the mistake of the prior season. If the Orioles were going down, I was going with them to the last bitter pitch. And then things started falling together, especially after some early season unluckiness, which some baseball pundits describe as “balancing out last years luck,” a completely ridiculous argument. Flaherty, 0-3 with three strikeouts in the game and 0-17 on the season, nubbed a base hit through the hole on the left side of the infield. Nolan Reimold walked, Nate McLouth walked, and one wild pitch later, the game was tied. It only took one additional pitch to erase that tie and the Orioles were up 8-5 after Machado’s three run home run.
This was evident this year but possibly more relevant in 2013: even in the early season losses, the Orioles have been in every game and have never quit. As a fan, I can’t ask for much more and it is another clear difference from the teams of the early to mid 2000’s.