Now that’s how you put on a show for a national audience.
On an Apple TV + Friday Night Baseball broadcast, the Orioles pulled off their most unforgettable comeback of the year, rallying from a six-run deficit to emerge with a remarkable 12-8 win in Boston. A 10-run explosion in their final three innings spurred the Orioles to the most improbable of victories in a game that once seemed to be a lost cause.
Baseball is pretty great sometimes, you guys.
I’m not going to make any grand proclamations about how this game was a turning point for the Orioles or signaled some kind of culture shift in the organization. All I’ll say is that it was an absolutely awesome night, and a true pleasure to watch all the late-inning heroics unfold. And the fact that it happened in the Orioles’ first nationally televised broadcast of the season, when many casual baseball fans may have been watching them play for the first time, made it all the sweeter.
What a startling turn of events compared to the early innings, when the O’s played like the team that, frankly, most baseball fans expected they’d see. Horrid pitching. Sloppy defense. “We’re supposed to believe THIS is a team that’s getting better?” cynical viewers undoubtedly scoffed. “They still just look like the Orioles to me.”
We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Orioles starter Kyle Bradish didn’t retire a batter until he’d already surrendered four runs. The Sox began the first inning with back-to-back singles, the second of which was booted by left fielder Anthony Santander, allowing Enrique Hernandez to score all the way from first base. Bradish then drilled JD Martinez with a 1-1 pitch to put two aboard for Xander Bogaerts, who promptly blasted a three-run homer over the Green Monster. Four batters into the game, the Red Sox led, 4-0.
Bradish eventually slogged his way through three outs – though not before Jorge Mateo committed the Orioles’ second error of the inning – but his night didn’t get any better in the second. After retiring the first two hitters, Bradish found the third out impossible to secure. A single, a walk, and another hit batsman loaded the bases, setting the table for Alex Verdugo to swat a deep double to the center field. It’d have cleared the bases if not for a fortuitous bounce into the stands that forced the third runner to hold at third. Still, two more runs crossed the plate, and manager Brandon Hyde had seen enough of Bradish.
Bradish, who had worked at least four innings in each of his first five major league starts, lasted just 1.2 tonight, giving up six runs, six hits, a walk, and two hit batters. It was the first truly disastrous start of Bradish’s young career. It won’t be the last. What matters is how he bounces back from it next time.
If the O’s were going to rally back from a 6-0 deficit, they weren’t going to do it against Garrett Whitlock, Boston’s second-year hurler who’s being stretched out as a starter. Tonight he unfurled the longest and most impressive start of his career, working six full innings for the first time. Whitlock mowed down the first 10 batters he faced before his modest perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout bids were all ruined in the span of two batters – first a Mancini walk, then a Santander two-run homer into the right-field seats . That cut the Boston lead to 6-2, but the O’s got no closer while Whitlock was in the game.
The Red Sox inched their lead back up to six runs on RBI hits by Martinez in the fourth and Christian Vazquez in the fifth, both coming against Beau Sulser. Still, Sulser – brother of Cole – provided some valuable long relief in his O’s debut, chewing up three innings after Bradish’s early departure. He gave up seven hits, but hey, you can’t have everything. Marcos Diplan followed with two scoreless innings, and Logan Gillaspie got the last out of the seventh.
The capable work by the Orioles’ low-leverage relief crew turned out hugely important. A never-say-die O’s offense set about chipping away at the huge deficit against a porous Red Sox bullpen. They gnawed off half of the Boston lead on one big swing by Mateo, who batted against Jake Diekman with two aboard in the seventh and crushed a no-doubt-about-it moon shot into the Monster seats. It’s 8-5. Now things are getting … interesting.
They got even more interesting in the eighth, when the O’s stunned the Red Sox by erasing the remaining gap. Again, a multi-run homer did much of the heavy lifting. This one came from Austin Hays, who followed Santander’s leadoff walk with another Green Monster shot off right-hander John Schreiber. Loved him in Dukes of Hazzard.
Schreiber retired the next two batters, giving the Sox a chance to escape the inning with the lead still intact, but the Orioles just wouldn’t go away. Rougned Odor laced a double off lefty Matt Strahm to put the tying run in scoring position. Ramon Urias then chopped a slow roller to the third base side. Rafael Devers made a nice barehanded pickup but rushed his throw to first base and fired it into foul territory, allowing Odor to score from second.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a game they once trailed by six, the Orioles had tied the score, 8-8. The Fenway crowd sat in stunned silence, a stark contrast to the noises emanating from my living room.
After the O’s escaped the bottom of the eighth – with Cionel Perez throwing one pitch to bail Dillon Tate out of a two-on, two-out jam – the Orioles took control with a four-run rally in the ninth. Cedric Mullins led off with an opposite-field single to left against Strahm, then took off for a second as Mancini ripped a single to left. Mullins, perhaps overaggressively, charged for third base as left fielder Alex Verdugo fired the ball back in, but Cedric was able to avoid the tag with a nifty slide toward the back of the bag. The O’s, with runners at the corners and nobody out, were in business.
Santander wasted no time playing the hero, lining a sharp single to right that was trapped by Jackie Bradley Jr. Mullins trotted home, giving the Orioles their first lead of the night in a game that – and I can’t stress this enough – they once trailed by six runs. Incredible!
Sox manager Alex Cora went back to the bullpen for Hirokazu Sawamura, who had no more luck than Diekman, Schreiber, or Strahm before him. A Hays walk loaded the bases, giving Adley Rutschman a golden opportunity for his first major league RBI. Alas, he bounced into a forceout at the plate. No matter, though – Sawamura promptly uncorked a wild pitch that plated Santander, and a Ryan Mountcastle sac fly and Odor RBI single extended the O’s lead to 12-8. All in all, the Boston bullpen surrendered 10 runs (nine earned) in three innings of work. Too bad, so sad. By that point, the crowd of 29,251 had started filing for the exits.
Jorge Lopez finished things off with a perfect ninth inning, capping off a gem of a game. What a win! Take notice, AL East – the Orioles might not be quite the pushovers you thought they were.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for Friday, May 27?
Austin Hays (2-for-4, two-run HR)
Jorge Mateo (three-run HR to start the comeback)
Rougned Odor (3-for-5, double, RBI)
Anthony Santander (two-run HR, go-ahead single in 9th)
527 votes total