ANAHEIM, California—By the time the Orioles’ 16-inning, 10-8 win over the Los Angeles Angels was complete, it was 4:27 a.m. back East. Early risers, who are never able to watch even the beginning of West Coast Orioles games, got to catch the tail end of this one.
Some hours before, when Mychal Givens punched out Mike Trout to end the eighth, I tweeted that Trout was hitless in six at-bats against Givens. My perceptive friend, MASNSports.com’s Steve Melewski, described me as “sleepy” in his tweet.
At that point, I just wanted the game to be over and to catch up on sleep. Covering the first game of a West Coast road trip can be tough for me. My body doesn’t usually catch up until a couple of days into the trip, and I was exhausted.
Fortunately, I perked up and stayed with the game, as did the Orioles.
It wasn’t the most compelling regular-season Orioles game I covered. In 2012, I saw Chris Davis pitch the final two innings of a 17-inning win at Fenway Park.
That was much more surprising because Davis hadn’t pitched as a professional, and then-manager Buck Showalter had never used a position player to pitch, even in a lopsided game.
For Showalter’s successor, Brandon Hyde, using position players is no big deal. Already this season, he’s used Davis, Hanser Alberto and Jesus Sucre as well as Wilkerson.
Wilkerson had never pitched professionally before July 12 when he retired all three batters in the ninth inning of a 16-4 loss to Tampa Bay. Last Saturday, Wilkerson pitched the final two innings of a 17-6 defeat to Boston, allowing a run.
But this was different. Hyde was trying to win the game, not endure it.
Wilkerson threw up his soft tosses, which are in the low-to-mid 50s on the radar gun, and the exhausted Angels could do nothing with them.
Tanner Scott, who coughed up a three-run lead in the 15th, was given the win and Wilkerson got the save, a first for a position player.
Wilkerson should have been given the win. According to MLB scoring rules:
“The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.”
Wilkerson became part of history, but he should have been credited with the win.
When Davis pitched the 16th and 17th inning on May 4, 2012, it was an important time for the Orioles. Coming off 14 consecutive losing seasons, the Orioles won two of three games at Yankee Stadium before sweeping the Red Sox three straight at Fenway.
That game and that week helped legitimize a new Orioles era that led to three postseason appearances in five seasons.
These Orioles are trying to establish a new sense of legitimacy under Hyde and general manager Mike Elias. This game was most likely just a fun and energizing divergence on the long road to respectability, and not a key win—unless they decide that Wilkerson is better off as a closer.