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Kimbrel blows it again, but the Orioles come back and win 7-6 in 12 innings
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Kimbrel blows it again, but the Orioles come back and win 7-6 in 12 innings

Friends. Fellow citizens of Birdland. Tonight’s baseball game was not for the faint of heart. The Orioles prevailed through 12 innings, but it was an ugly victory. They split their two-game series with the Nationals and finished the road trip with a 4-1 record. They remain at the top of the AL East in a virtual tie with the New York Yankees, who also won tonight. How did we get there?

For eight and a half innings, tonight’s game was pretty cold. Kyle Bradish was inefficient but effective. The attack was relatively quiet, but brought the team into the final inning with a 3-1 lead. Manager Brandon Hyde called on his closer, the well-rested Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel got two quick outs and the win seemed within reach.

Then it all went to hell.

Eddie Rosario, the Nationals’ #8 hitter with an OPS under .500, homered off Kimbrel to right field. It cut the lead to one, with just one out to go. But Kimbrel couldn’t get it. He walked the next batter. And then he walked the next batter (although several pitches were on the boundary). Then, for the second time in as many appearances, Craig Kimbrel was pulled from the game without completing the save.

Keegan Akin replaced Kimbrel and needed just one out to seal the win. The normally solid Akin threw a wild pitch and then allowed an RBI single to tie the game. Akin eventually got that third out and the game went to extra time.

The offense wasted both the ghost runner and a one-out walk by pinch hitter Ryan O’Hearn in the top of the 10th, then Albert Suárez came in for the bottom of the inning. He was excellent with a fast 1-2-3 inning. On to the 11th!

Our old friend, Hunter Harvey, came to pitch for the Nationals in the 11th. If you haven’t followed Harvey since he left the Orioles, he’s been very good. Adley Rutschman grounded out to bring up Ryan Mountcastle, who happens to be Harvey’s good friend and former roommate. The two have only faced each other once again, in 2022.

As host Melanie Newman recounted the first showdown in which Mountcastle homered off his friend, Mounty turned on an 87-mph splitter and sent it 350 feet for a two-run home run. Mouncastle is now 2-for-2 against his friend.

Suddenly the atmosphere was good again, only slightly dampened by pinch runner Ryan McKenna who slid over second base after a steal attempt. He was tagged to end the inning and then moved to right field to replace Anthony Santander. But the Orioles were up by two! All they needed was one more inning from Suárez. And he certainly could. Until last week he was a starter!

Cub.

Suárez got one out, but a walk and an automatic double that bounced over the left field fence drove in the ghost runner and put runners on second and third. Jacob Young hit a fly ball to center-right field. Rosario tagged in from third and scored the tying run before McKenna’s throw. It wasn’t a great throw. Again it was a draw.

Jordan Westburg started the top of the 12th inning at second base as the ghost runner with Jorge Mateo at the plate facing righty. That’s not his normal strength, but tonight he got the job done with a little help from the Nationals defense. Mateo singled through the left side of the infield. Westburg chugged home.

The throw from the outfield was cut in the infield and bounced away. Mateo raced to second base when pitcher, Jordan Weems, picked up the ball and shot to second base. It skipped past the second baseman and into center field, allowing Mateo to reach third. That play was big, as Weems threw a wild pitch to the next batter, allowing Mateo to come in and score what would eventually become the winning run.

We went to the bottom of the 12th. Only two pitchers remained in the bullpen for the Orioles, Jacob Webb and Mike Baumann. Fortunately for all of us, Hyde did not go with Baumann. It was up to Webb to wrap things up.

It started badly. With CJ Abrams on second base, Luis García hit a ball out to McKenna in right field. He always finds a way to be involved in the action, doesn’t he? The ball was smoked at 105 miles per hour and went over McKenna’s head. Abrams scored and García landed on second base. Just back to a one-run game. But luckily for my heart, Webb wrapped things up from there. A strikeout and two more flyouts to McKenna and the game was finally over. McKenna is known as a defensive player, but lately he seems to be a problem everywhere he goes. I’m not supposed to be this nervous about routine fly balls.

So the Orioles got the win, but are left with questions. What are they going to do with Craig Kimbrel? He had an excellent April and it initially appeared that his recent problems were due to the need for more rest. We thought we learned in Cincinnati that he can’t go on back-to-back days, but he had a lot of trouble tonight despite not pitching since May 4. In his postgame interview, Hyde simply said they should agree with him. What that means has yet to be determined.

Tonight the bullpen was good for the most part. Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez in particular looked great. Akin struggled tonight, but has generally been good so far this year. Webb finally got the job done. But without Kimbrel as a solid option at the end of the game, everything is disrupted.

So many pitchers were needed tonight because Kyle Bradish, in addition to the fact that the game lasted twelve innings, again could not throw more than five innings. Bradish started the game with an unpredictable look, putting two baserunners in the first inning and surrendering his only run in the second.

As Bradish put it in his postgame interview, he battled his mechanics in this game. He had good speed and swing-and-miss stuff, but his command wasn’t good. The Nationals didn’t get much hard contact from him, in fact the hardest hit ball against him was only 90.4 mph. But he was inefficient and his pitches led to an exit after just five innings.

In his fifth and final inning, Bradish struck out the batter with ease. CJ Abrams went down swinging, as did Luis García. And on a 1-2 count, he froze Nick Senzel with a pitch to center, off the plate. Excitedly, Bradish let out a scream as he walked down the hill. His last throw line was 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K. He hit a batter and had one wild pitch. He threw 90 pitches and 56 strikes.

Until the late-innings frenzy of runs, the Orioles’ offense was limited. Unlike Bradish, Nationals starter Mitchell Parker did encounter hard contact. The hardest hit ball of the evening was from Anthony Santander in the fourth inning. He came to the plate with two outs and undulated a low-and-inside slider deep into the left field seats. It was an absolute bomb, landing at a height of 130 metres.

Two innings later, Gunnar Henderson joined this dinger party. The then-clinching home run was Henderson’s eleventh of the season, which gives him the lead in the Major League. It was one of two goals for Henderson that evening. He also played good defense, including two double play balls he handled on his own at second base. He’s pretty good.

The last run the Orioles scored in pre-extension came on a sacrifice fly by Colton Cowser, which brought in his good friend Westburg. Cowser appears to have come out the other side of his slump. He also hit a single and a double in the game and just missed a home run late in the game.

Orioles wins 7-6 in 12 innings. Tomorrow they have a day off and I think they and we could use it. They will be back in action on Friday at Camden Yards against the defending champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

Opinion poll

Who is the most Birdland player for Wednesday, May 8?

  • 14%

    Jacob Webb (save in 12th inning)

    (61 votes)

  • 60%

    Jorge Mateo (go ahead RBI single on 12th, fast base running, general awesomeness)

    (260 votes)

  • 25%

    Ryan Mountcastle (keeps taking things from his best friend)

    (111 votes)


Total 432 votes

Vote now