This is why you watch the games.
This is why baseball is so cool.
Because Monday night’s 2-1 win by the Orioles against the Kansas City Royals shouldn’t have happened for several reasons. And yet they did win. In dramatic fashion.
The Orioles beat the red-hot Royals in the bottom of the ninth on a RBI single by 33-year-old Craig Gentry.
It was his 1,192nd plate appearance in nine seasons. And his first walkoff hit.
Gentry, who has been designated for assignment twice by the Orioles this year, was only up in the majors this time because the club traded Hyun Soo Kim on Friday.
“It has been a battle, a big grind, not only this year but the last few years,” Gentry said. “And to come out here, and something like this happens to me, it’s pretty amazing.”
Frankly, I didn’t think Gentry should have been hitting in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two runners on in a tied game. I wasn’t the only one.
“To be honest with ya, I thought I was gonna be pinch hit for,” Gentry laughed. “To get to go up in that situation, for them to have confidence in you like that, is a big deal.”
Gentry’s hit up the middle made a winner out of closer Zach Britton, who by most accounts, was supposed to be traded by the 4 p.m. deadline.
He wasn’t. Then he came into the game in the ninth and shut the Royals down.
“I think there was a period where I was like, ‘OK this is where I’m going to stay.’ I can relax and just pitch well and help this team win and get to the postseason. The thought of going somewhere else was completely done,” Britton said. “It just got rid of maybe some of the awkwardness that I felt like was in the clubhouse before the deadline was over. Everyone just got back to normal.”
The Royals headed into the night as baseball’s hottest team, winning 10 of 11, and scoring four runs or more in all but one of those games.
And then they were shut down by Ubaldo Jimenez, continuing the night of improbabilities.
Jimenez entered the game with a 6.93 ERA. He allowed just one run – a RBI double in the first – in seven innings. He struck out six, walked two and allowed five hits. It was his second straight quality start.
“It feels good. That’s what I always think. It doesn’t matter how you start, you have to finish strong,” he said. “That’s what the team needed the most. It feels good to be able to go out there and compete and keep the team close.”
Just a weird night at Camden Yards.
I spent much of the day talking about how the Orioles were fooling themselves that they were still in this postseason race.
And then Jimenez pitches great, Britton gets the win and Gentry is the hero.