Written by Mike Laws
Being the story of Adrian Beltre singlehandedly beating the Birds
Texas 8, Orioles 5
And it had all seemed to be going so well.
With one away in the fifth, his team up a run courtesy of the long-awaited two-out RBI single (which had come from Brian Roberts, back in the second) as well as a Manny Machado blast just over the wall in left (in the third), Oriole starter Zach Britton appeared well on the way to another fine outing. He’d given up a second-inning rifle-crack shot to dead center off the bat of Adrian Beltre, it’s true, and had maybe put a few more runners on than you’d like to see, but had by and large come up with the big pitch to escape any real trouble. The lefty wasn’t missing many bats, but was coming up with groundball outs by the boatload — two of which had already gone for inning-ending or at least rally-stanching double-play balls.
And even, in the fifth, after walking Leonys Martin, Britton caught the Cuban attempting to swipe second, throwing behind him to first, from which position Chris Davis fired a bullet to the covering Roberts to record the put-out (and avoid a third straight pickoff play where the Orioles wouldn’t get the call, though the similar play involving the Yankees last Sunday was really a ridiculous botch-job by the second-base ump). So that gave Britton two outs. The bases were now empty. But Ian Kinsler kept the Ranger half of the frame alive, singling to center. And then Britton walked Jurickson Profar. Nelson Cruz came through in the clutch, ripping a single just past a diving Machado and into left field, tying the game. Which brought Beltre, already now 2-for-2, to the dish. Britton fell behind 1-0, then left a fastball up and out over the plate — precisely the kind of pitch where you can pretty much visibly see Beltre’s eyes widen. He practically leapt out of his cleats. Another homer, this time way out to left, and what had looked for all the world like it’d be an easy inning, especially after the pickoff, became a waking nightmare. The Rangers now led 5-2.
And while the Orioles would do their level best to get back into the contest — and actually did, in the very next half-inning, which began with back-to-back Ranger errors (Beltre, at third; Robinson Chirinos, at first), included Chris Davis getting plunked on the elbow, and ended with J.J. Hardy falling into an 0-2 hole against Texas’s own southpaw starter, Martin Perez, but then lacing another two-out base hit (this time a two-run single over the left side of the infield), making it 5-4, Rangers — that was all the home team would get. The Orioles would send the minimum twelve men to the dish over the final four turns at bat, with the sole runner to reach base over that span (Nick Markakis, drawing a leadoff walk in the seventh) erased when Machado was adjudged to have interfered with catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s attempt to throw down to second, following Machado’s K (the uber-rare strike-’im-out/batter’s-interference double play). Meanwhile, Kevin Gausman finally gave up his first runs as a relief pitcher, surrendering an RBI double (Profar) and single (Pierzynski) in his second inning of work. And though Brian Matusz turned in a clean eighth, Darren O’Day ran into trouble in the ninth, appeared to have gotten out of it when Kinsler got caught leaning off third following a double by Cruz, but then gave in (kinda) to Beltre, whose bat the side-armer sawed literally in half, but who was still somehow able to muscle a bloop out into short center for the eighth Texas run of the night. When you’re hot, you’re hot, I guess. O’s lose, 8-4, running their record to a still-decent-but-not-really-all-that-impressive 49-42 … and that’s about all I feel like saying about it.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board