It was not pretty but the Orioles were able to pick up their first series win since the beginning of August on Wednesday. The O’s took two of three from the visiting Oakland Athletics to stay alive in a highly contested wildcard race.
The Orioles got off to a hot start in Monday’s series opener. Adam Jones led the way at the plate by going 4/4 with two solo home runs. Jones was not the only source of offense though. Wellington Castillo added a solo shot of his own and Jonathan Schoop plated three with his home run to help the Orioles beat the A’s 7-3.
Wade Miley took the mound and gave the O’s a much needed quality start. Through six innings of work, Miley surrendered just two runs on five hits. Manager Buck Showalter allowed Miley to come out for the seventh but after giving up a lead off walk he was replaced. The bullpen was able to close out the final three innings while giving up just one more run.
On Tuesday the Orioles were able to find a decent amount of offense but they were playing from behind the entire game. The A’s pounced on Ubaldo Jimenez early and held a 5-0 lead after five innings.
After Jimenez’s exit, the Orioles started to make up some ground. Manny Machado stayed hot at the plate with a two run homer in the sixth and Schoop brought two more home with a single in the eighth. This would be the end of the comeback though as the Oakland bullpen found their footing and shut down the O’s in the ninth, securing a 6-4 win.
After a loss on Tuesday the Orioles had to approach Wednesday afternoon’s series finale as if it were a must win game. It looked like the O’s were on the right track midway through the game but the A’s would not quit and extra innings had to be played.
It was a pitchers duel in the early innings as Dylan Bundy and Daniel Gossett retired their opponents on minimal pitches but both offenses would heat up soon enough.
In the fourth inning the Orioles offense was able to break out and take the lead thanks to a three run homer by Trey Mancini. The home run was followed by a Mark Trumbo walk and a Welington Castillo single, setting the table for Ryan Flaherty. The 31-year old utility player was making his first start since May 18 and he came through with a big RBI single to put the Orioles up 4-0. A two run homer in the sixth by Castillo helped give the O’s some insurance runs as the Athletics started to make a comeback.
Bundy did a good job of containing the A’s lineup but was ultimately chased out of the game. After getting a solid lead from his offense the young starter held Oakland to two runs through six innings of work. Bundy was replaced by Mychal Givens in the seventh but the A’s were able to plate two runs in the inning to cut their defect in half.
The Athletics continued to make a comeback in the eighth inning when Matt Joyce hit a two run homer to put his team within one run. Richard Bleier was called upon to get out of the inning but he was quickly replaced by Brad Brach after giving up a walk. Brach would end up getting the much needed strikeout after a few intense at bats to keep the O’s lead alive.
In the bottom half of the inning Chris Davis provided a big insurance run with a solo shot to center field. The home run put the O’s up 7-5 with Zach Britton coming in for the save. However, the Orioles closer did not look like his usual self as he quickly surrendered a single and a double to put the tying runs in scoring position.
Marcus Semien hit an RBI single and Matt Joyce followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at seven. The game was not over but the crowd was stunned as Briton’s 60 game save streak was snapped. The runs forced Buck Showalter to come out and replace his closer with just one out recorded in the ninth. Miguel Castro entered the game and was able to escape a bases load jam with a big strikeout.
In the bottom of the ninth the Orioles had an opportunity to prevent the game from going into extra innings but came up short. Welington Castillo led off the inning with a walk and Seth Smith followed with a single to put the winning run in scoring position. Buck Showalter opted not to bunt in this scenario with the teams best hitters due up but Tim Beckham, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop recorded three straight strikeouts to end the inning.
With the game dragging on the Orioles were looking for the long ball to put an end to the game and the finally got it in the 12th. Manny Machado was the hero once again, hitting his second walk off homer of the home stand. After getting out of a jam in the ninth, Castro was called upon to eat up some innings. The 22-year-old reliever did a great job working his way through three more innings to pick up his third win of the year.
The O’s will have Thursday off as they prepare to face Boston this weekend. The three games in Boston will be a brief break from a lengthy home stand. It’s been a few months since these teams last met but everyone remembers those heated matchups like they were yesterday. Manny Machado and the rest of the Orioles will definitely be looking to take down Boston and stifle their pursuit of a division title.
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