Image credit: © Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Box Score Banter, your daily dose of the previous day’s games, with a preview of what’s to come. All season stats mentioned are entering yesterday’s games.
The Clash at Camden
Orioles 5, Rays 4
In the middle of a series that will most likely decide who wins the AL East, the Orioles and Rays provided an instant classic with Sunday’s 11-inning thriller. The Rays started things off in traditional fashion with a first-inning solo shot by Brandon Lowe. Upon letting go of the pitch, Dean Kremer tried to will it to the outside corner with some Tuesday night bowling league body language, to no avail.
Through the top of the eighth, the game was rather unremarkable, as the Rays hit two more solo shots to take a 3-1 lead. It was at this point that the Orioles decided that they actually didn’t want to lose a series against the team they were directly competing with for a division title, as our featured player, superstar catcher Adley Rutschman, turned on 101 from Pete Fairbanks to reduce their deficit.
Finally, with Baltimore down to its last strike of the game, Adam Frazier got his own taste of triple-digit heat and did not pull it. Instead , he barely fought it off down the line for an opposite-field double to drive in Jorge Mateo and pull it even. As the story goes in extra-inning ghost runner games, both teams scored in the tenth, as Rutschman collected his second RBI of the game.
After 37 brutal innings of a four-game series, Tampa Bay ran out of gas in the 11th, failing to score a run in its half of the inning, and facing the possibility of walking out of Camden with a series split that left them remaining two games back in the fight for the AL East title. Mullins made sure their fears would become reality, as a deep fly ball to right was enough to bring in—who else—Rutschman as the game-winning run. Celebration immediately ensued, not only for a crucial win, but also in commemoration of the Orioles clinching their first playoff berth since 2016.
Sadly, the existence of time zones robbed us of a double celebration: Both teams actually clinched playoff spots on Sunday, due to a loss by the ever-slipping Texas Rangers. But really, the story here is about the Orioles, whose fans have waited three-quarters of a decade to see their team back in the playoffs, and how beautiful it is that the Orioles could come back after losing the first two games in the series and make that long-awaited moment happen in front of a packed Camden Yards.
Other Notable Showings
Gold: Jazz Chisholm (1-2, 4 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, HR)
Chisholm posted an impressive line in Miami’s 16-2 rout of the league-best Braves, locking down the first NL sweep of the Braves all season with a grand slam in the third. While this is all well in good, it makes it all the better that Sunday’s game was Chisholm’s second in a row where he hit a grand slam, a Marlins first.
Silver: Grayson Rodriguez (8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 K)
Rodriguez gave the Orioles just the boost they needed after dropping the first two games of their ever-crucial series against the Rays. He posted one of the best lines of the year in the biggest game up to this point in his career, shutting down a powerful Rays offense and getting support from his own hitters to lead Baltimore to a 8-0 win.
Bronze: Mitch Haniger (2-4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 2B)
The Rockies/Giants series this weekend was quite an interesting one, plagued with rain delays, a near-losing no-hitter, doubleheaders, and, of course, Coors levels of offense. In a game that San Francisco once led 9-0 and then nearly escaped with an 11-10 win as they staved off a late Rockies comeback, Haniger’s three RBI provided them just the edge that they needed to avoid being swept in Denver as they remain in the Wild Card hunt.
Monday, September 11
These matchups are once again not good, but there is some potential history to be made this Monday night!
Red Sox (RHP Kutter Crawford) @ Rangers (LHP Jordan Montgomery), 8:05 p.m. ET
If you’re wanting to tune into a Rangers game on Monday, chances are Montgomery WILL be pitching in said game. This guy has to be my most frequently included player in the next day’s matchups when I write on Sundays. Crawford and the sadistic Red Sox will also be there after dropping back-to-back games on walkoffs.
Orioles (LHP John Means) @ Astros (RHP Justin Verlander), 8:10 p.m. ET
Perhaps the magical Orioles can trot out 2021-esque Means in this battle amongst two playoff probables. Verlander is looking to push his team to a more certain playoff standing as the Rangers continue to fall and the Mariners are feisty. On the bright side, they’ll probably enjoy a nice post-celebration lineup by Baltimore.
Brewers (RHP Freddy Peralta) @ Cardinals (RHP Adam Wainwright), 7:45 p.m. ET
Adam Wainwright stinks. The Brewers’ offense also stinks. It’ll be a duel to the death with wet cardboard tubes, but Adam Wainwright is at 199 wins in his career, so it’s worth it to at least keep an eye on this game and watch for history.
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