Written by Lee Tackett
Chris Davis hit a 1-2 pitch from Franklin Morales back through the middle to drive in two, as the Orioles outlasted the Red Sox 5-2 in 12 innings. After the Sox tied the game at 3 in the sixth, neither team scored until the Birds two run 12th.
The first inning began innocently enough, but after Shane Victorino hit a one out single, David Ortiz unloaded on a Wei-Yin Chen fastball to send the Red Sox to an early 2-0 lead. Chen got into trouble again in the third. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single up the middle and Victorino beat out a bunt single in which Chen was slow getting off the mound to put two on with none out. Ortiz then hit a missile to Chris Davis who knocked it down, but Chen again failed to get to the bag and Ortiz loaded the bases. Maybe Chen was conserving his energy to finish the inning. J.J. Hardy made a great grab on a Mike Napoli line drive for the first out, then Chen induced a 1-2-3 double play from Jonny Gomes to escape the inning unscathed.
The double play seemed to invigorate Chen, as he turned in his first clean frame in the fourth. Chen notched a scoreless fifth, but once staked a lead by his offense, in typical fashion, surrendered it. After an extended at bat, Chen threw one too many elevated fastballs to Napoli, who drilled the offering over the fence in center to tie the game at 3. Chen got two straight outs, but gave up singles to Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew to conclude his night.
Chen did well to only give up three while scattering 11 Red Sox hits. He pitched with runners on base for most of the night and seemed to get into plenty of negative counts, but when behind spotted his fastball well to get out of innings. Chen was nowhere near the best version of himself, but made the Red Sox hitters earn their way on base with no walks and avoided the big inning.
Final Line: 5.2 IP 11 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 5 K
Francisco Rodriguez played the role of fireman, getting David Ross to ground out to end the threat in the sixth.
Kevin Gausman was magnificent in working a scoreless seventh and eighth. He faced six hitters, struck out five, and used a three pitch mix that we had not seen in prior bullpen outings.
Tommy Hunter allowed a base runner, but navigated his way through a scoreless ninth to force extra innings. Hunter then worked a scoreless 10th through the help of a 6-5-3 double play.
T.J. McFarland came on to work the 11th and coaxed a slow ground ball from Mike Carp, but Brian Roberts couldn't come up with it and the Red Sox started their inning. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, McFarland conjured a 4-6-3 double play to get the Birds to the 12th.
Jim Johnson surrendered a lead off single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia but got three straight ground balls to finish the game and earn his 47th save of the season.
Jake Peavy no hit the Orioles through the first four, but the white hot Danny Valencia broke things up with a single to lead off the fifth. Matt Wieters followed with a blast to triples alley in center just out of the reach of Victorino for an RBI double. Wieters advanced to third on a J.J. Hardy ground out and came home to the game on a Brian Roberts double to the left center gap.
The Orioles took the lead in the sixth on a streak of two out hits. Nick Markakis and Valencia hit back to back singles and Wieters ripped a ground rule double down the line to plate Markakis. Valencia may have been able to score had the ball stayed in play, but the ball looked to be hit too hard.
In the 12th with one down, Hardy and Roberts hit back to back singles to begin the rally. Buck elected to play match ups and inserted recently activated Steve Pearce. Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales must have heard of Pearce's escapades in extended spring training and spiked his first pitch, allowing Hardy and Roberts to move up 90 feet. Morales walked Pearce intentionally to load the bases and garnered a Manny Machado pop up for the second out. Chris Davis entered his at bat in the 12th 0-5 on the day and was behind in the count when he muscled a breaking ball that he was clearly fooled on back through the middle to put the O's up 5-3.
J.J. Hardy did his part to keep the third inning from getting ugly with a perfectly timed jumped to snare a Mike Napoli liner.
If there was any doubt about Manny Machado's ability to come across the bag on a double play, he turned a perfect 6-5-3 double play in the 10th.
It was a difficult play, but Brian Roberts needed to come up with Carp's "single" in the 11th. The ball was hit slowly and it looked like Roberts just fielded the ball too deep in his stance to stay balanced.
In the 12th, Johnson got a tailor made double play ball, but Roberts air mailed the throw despite the slide not impeding him. Like his miscue in the 11th, it didn't ultimately matter, but with a closer like Johnson these mistakes can't happen.
It was certainly nice that Davis's single in the 12th brought home two instead of one. After Machado's night, things looked eerily reminiscent of the middle of the order's poor situational hitting from a night before. Johnson didn't exactly slam the door in the ninth, but he did get three weak contacts after the Salty single.
Observations and Musings
-Darren O'Day's absence was glaring tonight. I'm sure Buck would have never planned on using McFarland in a tie game in Fenway against the Red Sox with the season on the line, but to T.J.'s credit he has been very good the past two nights. The bullpen is thin right now and spent after two nights of early starter exits. Tillman has been the most consistent in terms of going deep in games and hopefully that continues tomorrow.
-With losses by Texas and Cleveland, the O's are 1 game out of the second Wild Card spot, 2 games out of the first spot, and .5 games behind the Indians.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board