Happy Labor Day! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume on Tuesday, September 2.
September 19, 2012
What You Need to Know
Wednesday, September 19
The Tuesday, er, Wednesday Takeaway
Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez kept the visitors off the scoreboard for the first eight innings of the game and carried a 2-0 lead into the ninth thanks to Miguel Olivo’s fourth-inning homer, but he could not complete the shutout. A two-run single by Chris Davis, off closer Tom Wilhelmsen, knotted the tally at 2-2. Then the madness began.
Both teams had ample opportunities to end it. The Mariners had two on and one out in the bottom of the 10th, but Jesus Montero and Michael Saunders struck out. They got a leadoff double in the 12th, but Montero and Trayvon Robinson—who entered the game when Saunders was ejected for raising hell about home-plate umpire Jordan Baker’s strike zone—whiffed that chance away, too. Baltimore put runners at the corners with one out in the top of the 17th, but line drives off the bats of Lew Ford and Omar Quintanilla found the gloves of Carlos Triunfel and Kyle Seager.
And so they kept playing into the 18th, the Orioles’ first foray into a ninth extra frame since Aug. 24, 1969, when current Nationals manager Davey Johnson was the team’s second baseman. It was Baltimore’s second 14-plus-inning contest in six days, with the other being a 3-2 nailbiter over the Rays on Sept. 13. And, best of all, Wei-Yin Chen had the distinct pleasure of starting both of them.
But Chen wasn’t the only Orioles starter to appear in the marathon. In fact, four members of their Opening Day rotation found their way into the box score, with Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter getting the call in relief. Hunter worked the 16th and 17th innings to pick up his first win in exactly two months, before Jim Johnson—who did more dry humping in the bullpen than teenagers at a high school dance—retired the Mariners in order in the 18th for his 44th save.
And if that’s not enough #weirdbaseball for you, get a load of this. Olivo entered yesterday’s game with four walks in 287 plate appearance this season. The 34-year-old drew two free passes in his first 21 career trips to the plate, but only 147 in the ensuing 3,831. Naturally, in addition to going yard, he took three more trots to first on bases-on-balls, the first time he had done that in 1,076 big-league contests. And to top it all off, Olivo also stole second base in the 11th inning, the only swipe for either team in the equivalent of two games of play.
Still, for all of Olivo’s unique contributions, the Mariners could not halt the Orioles’ seemingly unbreakable streak of extra-inning wins. Eric Wedge’s team went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position, leaving 16 men on base along the way.
That opened the door for Baltimore, which had endured its own case of the RISP blues for much of the game. Buck Showalter’s squad was 1-for-10 with runners at second or third—with Davis’ ninth-inning single representing the only knock—heading into the 18th, when Nate McLouth walked and J.J. Hardy perfectly executed a hit-and-run by shooting a single into the area vacated by the second baseman Seager. Taylor Teagarden kept the rally going with an RBI single, and later, Mark Reynolds added an insurance run on a 5-6 fielder’s choice where the shortstop Triunfel recorded the putout by stepping on third base.
And that putout wasn’t the most bizarre achievement of the half-inning. That honor goes to Teagarden, who collected his seventh hit of the season with the aforementioned flare to right field. Unbelievably, three of those seven have been game-winners.
Yet for all of the oddities on display in the 4-2 decision at Safeco Field last night, nothing rivals this one: it’s September 19th, and the Orioles are in a virtual tie with the Yankees for first place.
What to Watch for on Wednesday