Trumbo’s homer is the difference
A weekend full of so-called productive outs from the Orioles — sacrifice flies, well-placed ground balls and sacrifice bunts — was cut short when it mattered most.
The Orioles win when their big boys swing hard and connect, and that’s what salvaged a series split with the Tampa Bay Rays at Camden Yards on Sunday.
The Orioles won, 2-1, when right fielder Mark Trumbo, back in the lineup after two days out with back spasms, hit a homer for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning before an announced 28,427.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am every day looking out there and seeing them fight through it and being there for each other,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s a close group. It killed Trum not to play the last two days. Obviously, he had a big day for us today.”
Two innings earlier, third baseman Manny Machado hit a drive out to center field to tie the game, his career-high 36th of the season.
The Orioles got four scoreless innings from beleaguered starter WadeMiley, but he left before the fifth inning. Miley was dealing with an upper-back strain and didn’t make it past his warmup throws.
Right-hander Darren O’Day, fresh off the disabled list from a right rotator cuff strain, allowed a home run on the first pitch he threw in relief of Miley to open the fifth inning, but the Orioles shut the door after that.
From O’Day to closer Zach Britton, who recorded his 45th Manny Machado watches his game-tying sixth-inning home run off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. save in 45 tries, the bullpen allowed just one run on five hits, with eight strikeouts in five innings.
“The bullpen came in and did an outstanding job of shutting the door after that,” Miley said. “O’Day made a pretty good pitch that [ Corey] Dickerson hit out, a sinker, down and away. Other than that, it was a lockdown job by our bullpen.”
With the win, the Orioles improved to 82-67 but would have to wait for the result of Sunday night’s late game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees to know their division deficit when Boston comes to town tonight. Odorizzi good for a change: For years, Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi has been far better against the rest of the league than against the Orioles. He entered the day 3-4 with a 5.48 ERA all time against the Orioles, far above his career 3.78.
On Sunday, he showed what he does to every other team, pitching six innings of five-hit, one-run ball with three strikeouts.
The Rays (64-85) announced an ignominious distinction after his winless start: He has set a major league record with 12 nodecisions while allowing two earned runs or fewer. Bullpen’s big day: It started poorly, with O’Day’s first pitch resulting in the home run by Dickerson, but the Orioles had all their top pitchers available out of the bullpen Sunday, and it showed.
O’Day allowed just the one run, and left-hander Donnie Hart pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a double play in the sixth inning. Right-hander Mychal Givens pitched a perfect seventh with two strikeouts, and right-hander Brad Brach (10-3) did the same in the eighth before Britton handled the ninth.
Showalter had used only Givens in a tight game Saturday, and him for only one batter, giving the Orioles manager flexibility Sunday. Joseph’s wait continues: With an 0-for-2 performance, catcher Caleb Joseph has 126 at-bats and 135 plate appearances without an RBI this season.
He did, however, lay down a successful sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second base and no outs in the seventh. With the chance to break the game open, center fielder Adam Jones and pinch hitter Drew Stubbs each struck out, Jones swinging and Stubbs looking. in the team’s final two weeks.
“We’ll see how Darren is tomorrow, see how everything goes and how often we’ll be able to use him,” Showalter said. “Those last hitters were a reminder of what we’ve gone through without him.”
Closer Zach Britton was warming up when the score was tied at1, and came in to record his 45th save in 45 chances with a scoreless ninth. The Orioles bullpen has been baseball’s second best over September, lowering its collective ERA to 2.04 on Sunday.
But Britton’s lockdown services were required only after the other half of the Orioles’ bread and butter came through late.
Trumbo, whose acquisition from the Seattle Mariners last winter for catcher Steve Clevenger (Mount Saint Joseph) has proven to be one of the shrewder recent deals by any team, clobbered a first-pitch fastball over the Orioles bullpen for his 43rd home run of the season to break the tie.
He has 12 go-ahead home runs this year, tied with third baseman Manny Machado, whose own homer tied it up in the sixth inning. Trumbo credited the bullpen with keeping the team close.
“It was essential,” Trumbo said. “It was what we needed. A huge credit to our guys to give us a chance, especially [to] kind of give us that nice momentum push going into the bottom of the eighth inning.”
Orioles bats have been creating plenty of momentum of their own. The club has 236 home runs, on pace for 257 overall this season. The franchise record is 257, set in 1996. A year later, the Mariners set the major league record with 264. Both records are in reach, thanks to the likes of Trumbo and Machado.
Sometimes it seems that the Orioles’ power hitters are showing off when they string together blasts in high-scoring games. Other times, all they can do is scratch out a pair of home runs to win a ballgame.
As September rolls on, and the intensity multiplies by the inning, then by the day, teams can be in a worse spot than the Orioles, who have a deep bullpen that can save a game and a powerful lineup that can win it.
“This time of year, someone’s got to step up at some point in the game,” Trumbo said. “We did a real nice job. It was a well-played game, but we just needed to get that hit there at the end.”