Here’s the thing about baseball.
So many little moments can determine the outcome of a game.
Or those little things can mean absolutely nothing, can be totally forgotten with one play, one swing, one pitch.
The Orioles squandered chance after chance Friday night at Camden Yards. They left 14 men on base. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They had one of their slowest runners thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning.
They only scored via three solo home runs.
Yet, when the dust settled and the coolers of water were splashed onto Mark Trumbo at home plate in the bottom of the 12th, another terrible, awful, no-good loss became a win that — who knows? — could help push this Orioles team back to the playoffs.
“That’s the million-dollar question. I hope so. I hope so,” said Trumbo, who hit a game-winning, solo homer to left field to give the Orioles their 6th walkoff victory of the year. “We’re giving it everything we have and obviously we’re gonna have to keep it going. We know what we have to do, and we’ve got the guys to do it.”
There was little about most of Friday night’s game that wasn’t frustrating.
Starter Yovani Gallardo, who ultimately delivered a quality start, gave up two runs in the first two innings to put the Orioles in an early hole. The offense again could not get a clutch hit with runners in scoring position in multiple innings. They couldn’t solve Shelby Miller, who entered the game 2-12 with a 6.90 ERA and may be considered the most disappointing pitcher in baseball, given his perceived upside.
And they nearly walked off in the ninth but J.J. Hardy was thrown out at the plate with two outs on a play that was reviewed for two minutes before the call, somehow, stood.
“I thought he was safe. I don’t know. The only thing they could have possibly said that they weren’t sure J.J. got there,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “The guy tagged him with the glove and had the ball in his throwing hand. … Another head-shaker. We’ve had quite a few of them this year.”
There were plenty of head-shakers. Showalter decided not to pinch-run Drew Stubbs for Hardy in the ninth. Showalter pinch-hit Michael Bourn for Hyun Soo Kim because he wanted to set up a sacrifice bunt, and Bourn popped-up.
So many things went wrong. And then …it didn’t.
All the negatives evaporated. A five-game, nail-in-coffin losing streak is instead perhaps the start of a winning streak against the undermanned Diamondbacks.
“I’m glad our guys feel good about themselves for one night, they’ve been frustrated. They’ve earned the right to play these meaningful games and I’m happy for them,” Showalter said. “You like being in this arena. That’s why you do this. The players, that’s what separates them. They don’t want to watch the highlights on SportsCenter. They want to be a part of them. And that’s the difference.”
The Orioles didn’t gain any ground in the wild card race, but didn’t lose any. They are still a half game behind the Detroit Tigers for the second spot. They, one would presume, are still alive and kicking – or bashing, anyway.
“We’ll take it, especially after having a few chances,” Trumbo said. “This is the type of game you definitely want to win, because it can be a real gut punch if it goes the other way.
“It would be a tough one to stomach. Fighting really hard in the thick of things, and then to have a couple chances. The effort’s there, but someone’s got to get that big hit eventually.”