Bullpen's sweet relief sets stage for clutch blasts
Relievers combine for six scoreless innings before winning homer
By Ben Raby
Special to MLB.com |
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are playing meaningful baseball in late September thanks in large part to their penchant for home runs and one of the game's most reliable bullpens.
Both came through on Friday as the Orioles erased a two-run,eighth-inning deficit in a 3-2, 12-inning win over the D-backs. With the win, the Orioles avoided a season-high fifth straight loss and remained one-half game behind Detroit for the American League's second Wild Card.
"I think this was a game where we knew it didn't matter what the situation was, what we were down by, we were going to have to find a way to win this game," said Matt Wieters, who tied the game with a solo homer to lead off the ninth. "It was actually really fun to play like that. It was sort of quiet, understated, we're going to find a way to do this."
The Orioles rallied with three solo homers, starting with a two-out blast from Pedro Alvarez in the eighth that snapped the Orioles' 14-inning scoreless drought. Wieters then went deep to lead off the ninth, before Mark Trumbo walked off with his league-leading 44th homer in the last of the 12th.
The Orioles lead the Majors with 242 homers, with Trumbo delivering the club's second walkoff blast of the year.
"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," Trumbo said. "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. We were fortunate today to get a `W.'"
Baltimore entered Friday's game off a four-game home sweep to the Red Sox in which the Orioles totaled eight runs. In the series opener against the Diamondbacks, the Orioles had multiple missed opportunities that could have come back to bite them.
The Orioles left the bases loaded in the first and couldn't score with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth. There was another opportunity missed in extra innings when the Orioles had the bases loaded with one out in the 11th, only to see Manny Machado and Chris Davis fly out.
Despite the missed opportunities, the Orioles still had a chance to rally and eventually win the game thanks to its bullpen. After starter Yovani Gallardo tossed six innings of two-run ball, six Orioles relievers combined for six scoreless frames.
"There's not much margin for errors," said manager Buck Showalter. "We've been challenged for runs lately. But they kept pushing the baton. We've had a lot of guys we've had to push because of the end of the season but they've handled it well and we've been able to keep the wolves at bay because of the job those guys are doing."
Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.