Chris 'Crush' Davis is known for his majestic home runs but last night his pure strength was enough, as he fisted a walk off RBI bloop single in the bottom of 13th inning to give the Baltimore Orioles a hard fought 5-4 victory.
After the first two batters in the 13th were retired, Nick Markakis worked a walk which was followed by an Adam Jones single to set the stage for Davis. Already with an RBI in the game, Davis worked the count full, which was a big advantage as the runners got to take off with the pitch and muscled a ball of the fists into left field and Markakis scored easily for the win. Had Baltimore not gotten the big hit there, they would have added to their already ridiculous number of 14 men left on base and were 3-13 with runners in scoring position before Davis' single.
Baltimore jumped out to an early 3-0 as they plated three runs in the third. Danny Valencia got the scoring started with a solo shot, his fourth of the season for a 1-0 lead. Ryan Flaherty would then double and advance to third on Nate McLouth's sac bunt before being driven in on a RBI single by Manny Machado for a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, Machado came in to score on a RBI single by Davis and Baltimore had given itself a three run lead.
Matt Wieters chipped in a RBI single in the fifth to account for the Orioles' other run in the game. Wieters (2-6, RBI), Davis (2-6, 2 RBI), Valencia (2-5, HR, RBI) and Machado (2-7, RBI) all had multi-hit games for the Birds.
Looking for his first career Major League win, Kevin Gausman showed a ton of improvement over his last start as he was locating his fastball with precision and his changeup was absolutely filthy. Gausman left the game in the sixth with a two run lead after throwing 5 1/3 innings, while allowing two runs on six hits, zero walks and five strikeouts.
Unfortunately for Gausman, Brian Matusz, who came into the game in relief of Kevin, did get out of the sixth, but surrendered two runs in the seventh that tied the game and thus gave Gausman the no decision.
The rest of the bullpen would pick up Matusz as they ended the game having thrown 6 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings after the two Matusz runs and kept this team in the game. T.J. McFarland tossed a scoreless 13th inning and picked up his first Major League win on the mound. The most astounding stat of the night is that the Orioles' pitching staff did not allow a single walk the entire 13 inning game.
Every reliever but Pedro Strop made an appearance in the game and because of that, the Orioles optioned Gausman to AAA Norfolk after the game in order to make room for an extra bullpen arm for the Birds. Gausman will have to stay in the minors for the mandatory 10 days, unless a DL move is made then that requirement is void. The good thing is that Gausman knows this is not a demotion, it is simply a fact of needing a bullpen arm after a 13 inning game, and it will shave some days off of his time in service towards this year counting as a full year of time in the bigs, which the Orioles would like to avoid if possible.
Baltimore will look to take game two of this four game set tonight as they send Chris Tillman (6-2) to the mound and he will square off against Ryan Dempster (4-6). No question that both teams will be looking to their guys for long outings to help the bullpens refresh. The victory moves the Orioles into second place in the division by themselves, and now sit just 2 1/2 games behind Boston for the division lead.
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