An interesting (and enjoyable) visit to the Yards last night as the Orioles hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seth Smith led off the bottom of the first inning with a homerun, putting the Birds up one-zip. The O’s hitters then had a collective six inning siesta as Pirates’ starter Ivan Nova took control of the game in impressive style.
Meanwhile Baltimore’s starter Kevin Gausman wasn’t all that bad (that means “better than usual”) but four back-to-back Pittsburgh hits in the second put the Bucs up 3-1. A David Freese solo homer in the sixth made it 4-1.
Key moment in the top of the 7th. Gausman is obviously tiring. A leadoff single by John Jaso. I look out to the pen and Buck has Ubaldo Jimenez throwing. Buck is obviously conceding the game. We’re down by three runs, the bullpen has been overused, and Gausman is running on empty. Let Ubaldo mop it up and give those relievers who really matter, a night off. Then in a rather bizarre move John Jaso decides to try and steal second base. Jaso is a former catcher. He has stolen exactly two bases in the past three seasons (he was 0 for 4 last year). What I’m not sure is, if the batter swung and missed (that would be a busted hit-and-run) but I think he did not. Straight steal. Caleb Joseph throws him out. And with that, Buck makes the switch the pen. Ubaldo sits down and Givens gets up. Buck is not conceding. He’s going for the win.
Then in the bottom of the seventh Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop (who has been red hot) both hit bases empty homeruns so now it was 4-2. The Pittsburgh management then suddenly “realized” that Nova was hurt so their reliever got lots of time to warm-up and the Birds were quickly retired.
In the 8th inning there was an impressive display by former Nats’ reliever Felipe Rivero who effectively mixed his 91 mph “change up” with his more serious 99-100 mph smoke and it looked like the Birds were going to come up short.
Bottom of the 9th and the Pirates brought in their closer Tony Watson. There were quite a few Pirates fans in the stands last night and I’m not sure there are all that sold on Watson as a closer. Anyway Davis singles and Schoop blasts another homerun tying it at five.
We go to the tenth. Buck has used Givens, O’Day, and now Brach in the relief. They entire bullpen (the ones that count, anyway). Bottom of tenth Jones gets a one out single. Machado (who is still struggling) flies out to deep left and Jones tags up and goes to second. Trumbo then singles him home ad the crowd goes wild.
A most enjoyable night.