It was difficult for some people to believe that the Baltimore Orioles had a shot to win last night’s game against Chicago. Even after jumping out to a 4-0 lead, that sinking feeling that the opposition had the Orioles right where they wanted them was lingering in the backs of people’s minds as the game wore on. Like clockwork, the White Sox began their “epic” comeback in the seventh inning. With starter Tommy Hunter (who otherwise pitched a great game) beginning to tire, the wheels started to come off. As is normally the case, it started innocently enought; Alex Rios hit a one-out single to left field. He moved to second on Adam Dunn’s groundout, and then made it to third on Jordan Beckham’s infield single. After a double, Rios scored and Jason Berken came into the game. Two runs scored on a Juan Pierre single to left field, tying the game. As time wore on and we made it to the last of the tenth, the call seemingly went out there for someone – anyone -on the Orioles to grab the bull by the horns before Chicago undoutedly would score on some fluke play, drowing the Orioles in their sorrows yet again…
The above-mentioned Tommy Hunter pitched a great game last night. He did give up seven hits and four runs over 6.2 innings pitched, however those four runs were also given up by a pitcher that was tiring quickly. Many people would probably look at that fact and say that the Orioles still aren’t getting their starters to go deep enough into games. That might be true, however Hunter hasn’t been a starter all year until coming to Baltimore a couple of weeks ago. So I can accept that kind of outing from him; in fact, it was his longest effort since last September. The fact is that he put the Orioles in a position to win the game, which is always one of the goals of a starting pitcher. On the other hand, Chicago starter Phil Humber had no business being in the game at various points. There were times when Humber looked like he was going to get run out of the stadium, but somehow he was able to keep from totally collapsing out there. J.J. Hardyhomered in the last of the first to start off the Orioles’ scoring, and again Humber seemed lucky that the game didn’t snowball.
The hit parade continued in the second when Chris Davis singled and was later driven home on a Robert Andino base hit; Andino was driven home on a Nick Markakis sac fly later in the inning. I suppose that while these runs were good signs from an at-times dormant offense, the problem is that the Orioles had a pitcher in Phil Humber who was visibly struggling. Yet they could only muster four runs against him, and they allowed him to keep his team on the fringes of being in the game. I suppose that might be one area the O’s really need to work on, and it’s more of a mental thing than anything else. You have to have the eye of the tiger to win games in this league; the Orioles were 2-for-9 with RISP last night. If one of those seven runs came across to score, we wouldn’t have gone to extra innings last night (all other things being equal). I’m not suggesting that the Orioles should consistently run up the score like some teams do, however the fact is that the slaughter rule isn’t to be invoked after a team takes a three-run lead.
…Mark Reynolds swung at the first pitch in the tenth inning and immediately recorded an out. The fact is that we’ve seen this game unfold many times thus far this season. The O’s play a tough game where they lead most of the way, only to allow their opponent to get back into it. The opponent will then take the lead on some flukey play (ie-a stroke of luck in a sense), and that’s your ballgame. Chris Davis followed up Reynolds with a single to left field, which brought us to Nolan Reimold’s at-bat. Many fans have questioned just what this guy has to do to get into a game. It seems that he’s the perennial bench-warmer not matter what he does. Moving foward we’ll have to see if that continues to be the case, however when Reimold sent the ball into Chicago’s bullpen for a walk-off home run, he “answered the call” that had been put out there.