Day two of baseball at home, and it did not go well. I guess the forty-three-minute rain delay should have tipped us off. Our hitters did alright; we can’t crush it every night, but five runs should be ample for a win. This time, both literally and figuratively, it was the pitching staff that dropped the ball.
We went down in order in the first and almost did the same in the second. With two out, Nava worked a four-pitch walk and scored on a double by Salty. Bradley walked to lead off the third and scored on a triple by Ellsbury, who scored on a sac fly by Victorino. Salty doubled again in the forth, but we didn’t score. We went down in order in the fifth, and then we brought the power in the sixth.
The Orioles made a pitching change for the sixth. Napoli and Middlebrooks both struck out swinging to start it off. And then homered on the third pitch to the opposite field. He sent it beyond the Monster. He took a curveball for a ball, fouled off a cutter, and unleashed on a ninety-six mile-per-hour four-seam. Then, it was double-take time. Salty came up. Four pitches. A curveball for a called strike, and then four straight four-seams. A ball, a swinging strike, and then a massive swing for a jack to right. Boom.
And that was it. We went down in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth. Baltimore’s relief corps was everything that ours wasn’t.
Let me point out that Dempster was not the problem. His start lasted only five innings. If he’d pitched longer, the relievers wouldn’t have had to come out so soon. But it wasn’t even the entire corps’s fault. And when a starter’s time is up, his time is up. Dempster had thrown ninety-three pitches when he was pulled out. He had allowed three hits and three runs, only one of them earned; Victorino and Bradley both committed fielding errors. The one earned run was the result of a solo shot that opened the fourth. So, technically, he only made one mistake, and he was solid overall. He only issued two walks and racked up seven strikeouts.
Uehara, Tazawa, and Bailey each pitched a shutout frame. But then Hanrahan happened. Allow me to paint the picture. Heading into the ninth, we were up by two. This was a prime save opportunity. Circumstances like this were designed specifically for closers because that’s what they do: they close the deal. So Hanrahan goes out there. His first three pitches are fouled off. Then he throws a ball and then another pitch that was fouled off. And then he gives up a solo shot. If that had been it, we still would have won. And it looked like that would be the case; Hanrahan picked up a strikeout and induced a popout. And then he gave up a single that led to a steal of second. And then he issued two back-to-back walks. At that point, he could have buckled down and gotten his next batter out to end the game with the victory intact.
That did not occur. Instead, he threw a wild pitch that brought the tying run home. And then his next batter came up. And Hanrahan threw a ball. And then Hanrahan threw a mistake that resulted in a three-run home run that put Baltimore on top permanently. That was when Miller came in and got the strikeout that ended the inning.
Hanrahan, quite simply, did not do his job. He was supposed to sustain the win. He was supposed to prevent damage. He was supposed to come in, have a one-two-three inning, and get out. And instead, he ended up with a well-deserved blown save and a well-deserved loss. Because he blew it and lost it for us. If it weren’t for Hanrahan’s terrible performance, we would have already been winners of the series. The final score was 8-5. And to top it all off, this was our first non-sold-out game since May 14, 2003. Well, the brass warned us that the end of the streak was imminent. Here’s to setting a new record and beating our old one.
In other news, the B’s beat the Devils, 5-4.