How do you know your team is really something special? When they win games they have absolutely, positively, no success in business.
Watch Tonight’s Quiz in Seattle. By all rights, this should have been a loss for the Orioles. Their opponent, George Kirby, threw one of the most dominant performances by any pitcher against the O’s in recent memory, to the point where the Orioles didn’t even get a runner in scoring position until the ninth inning. They didn’t stand a chance. it’s over.
Except it was not. A tandem of six O-pitchers stuck to the ground, keeping the Mariners out of the plate for 10 innings, working from every jam. An RBI single in the tenth by Ryan Mountcastle put the Birds ahead, and Félix Bautista bounced back from a two-run home run with a dominant two-run home run to close things down. Against all odds, the O’s ended up in the winning column, tying the series, avoiding a sweep for the 77th straight time, and two games remaining against the Rays in the AL East. This is the good stuff.
Tonight was Felix Hernandez’s night at T-Mobile Park, as the longtime Mariners ace has been inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. (No word yet on when he’ll be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame. His three Birds spring training starts in 2021 will be forever in our hearts.) In honor of former Cy Young winner, both starting pitchers tonight reveal their most exciting outings of the season.
Let’s start with the most unexpected of the two masterpieces. Orioles’ Cole Irvin, making his first start since July 7, was completely dominated. truly! Not looking like the guy with a career-high 0-6 record and an 8.42 ERA against the Mariners, Irvin locked in from the start, setting the tone for his night with a perfect nine-pitch first inning. He needed just 11 more pitches to retire all three batters in the second, then beat the Mariners’ first out—Dylan Moore’s double in the third—with a strikeout, strikeout, and pop-out to leave him stuck.
M’s threatened again in the fourth when a walk and single put runners aboard, but Tom Murphy’s harmless groundout ended the inning. Irvin took no baserunners off in the fifth inning, and pitched the second inning 1-2-3 in his scoreless fifth frame. Irvin has been fighting his tail, doing everything he can to put the O in position to win.
Unfortunately for Irvin, his counterpart, George Kirby, was simply untouchable. We already knew the 25-year-old was a fine pitcher — he was an All-Star guy this year, after all — but the M-hander was simply another level tonight. Perhaps to the excitement of King Félix’s celebrations and the boisterous crowd, Kirby had a bit of giddiness on his fastball, hitting 99 mph twice in the opening inning and drinking the first two batters of the game.
O’s was aggressive at the plate, fully aware that Kirby has the lowest walk rate in the majors, but she came up empty again and again. Kirby figured out four pitches—four pitches, sinker, curve, and changeup—with pinpoint precision, which kept O’s hitters rolling all night. When the Orioles did manage to connect, they didn’t hit anything on power, just a weak fly ball here and a soft fine there.
If Ryan Mountcastle hadn’t hit a single in the same field to lead it into second, we would have entered the eighth inning with Kirby holding an unsuccessful bid. Instead, he settled for facing the minimum strikeout of 21 batters through seven frames, erasing Mountcastle’s single on an Austin Hayes double play and going on to retire 19 batters in a row.
Irvin, as good as he was, couldn’t keep up with Kirby’s edge. The lefty Orioles, who didn’t fully practice the stretch after pitching in relief last month, walked out of the game after pitching 67 pitches in five scoreless innings. Great job by Cole, who jumped back into the spin and looked like he’d been there his whole life. Thanks to the combined efforts of Irvin and Kirby, the first five rounds flew in an hour and four minutes.
It was up to the Oriole Bull to try and keep up. It wasn’t pretty, but they kept the M off the scoreboard. Mike Bowman, after retiring the first two batters in the sixth, had trouble on a walk and doubled on scoring position, but Teoscar Hernandez lined out to left. Jacob Webb walked the first man in the seventh but put out the next two before Cionel Pérez caused a groundout to hitter Mike Ford. And Yennier Cano was savage in the eighth – issuing a walk and an HBP with one out – but he got out of it on a fly followed by a scratch down the first base line which he pitched brilliantly himself. O joint closure lasted through eight.
It doesn’t matter. The Orioles offense was unable to resolve Kirby, who returned to the mound in the ninth with only 85 runs under his belt. Just in that final inning, the Players put a runner in scoring position for the first time, thanks to Jordan Westberg’s single and stolen base. However, Kirby wasn’t upset. He hit Gunnar Henderson, retired Adley Rochman on a run-of-the-mill, and triggered Cedric Mullins’ false pop-up that Kirby caught, appropriately enough. Kirby yelled and slammed his glove in celebration as he returned to the dugout to the ecstatic cheers of the Seattle crowd.
Nine innings. no runs. Three key players. This is one of the best games you will ever see. And certainly one of the best things that didn’t result in a pitcher winning the game. (The last Mariners pitcher before Kirby to hit nine or more home runs in the loss? You guessed it: Felix Hernandez.)
It was only fitting that the other Felix would appear as well. Felix Bautista, who came off two minor league matches against AstrosI’m right back on the horse tonight. He floated through the ninth, and got an assist from Rutschman, who threw Cade Marlowe out on a steal attempt second after one. (Marlowe was initially ruled safe, but a replay review showed he was out of the bag after sliding in.)
Finally, with Kirby out of the game, the Orioles breached the top of the tenth. The robot runner, Mullins, cautiously stole third base when reliever M Andrés Muñoz didn’t notice him, and Mountcastle finally delivered the hit the O’s had been waiting for, a sharp single up the middle that brought Cedric home. employment! O, though, missed an opportunity for more. Shortstop Dylan Moore booted a playmaker to put runners in the corners with one out, but a fumbled Austin Hayes out and Mariner Adam Frazier lunged.
A one time run is bound to do it. And he was in good hands — specifically, the giant hands of Bautista. O’s was closest in vintage form on the 10th, his second. The robot runner never budged off second base, as Felix slashed Josh Rojas, Julio Rodriguez, and Eugenio Suarez in quick succession, getting all three on his swinging triple. soccer. Orioles win. This is the Felix Bautista we know!
This, friends, was worth staying up for.
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