In the history of Major League Baseball, there have been some 300,000 games, all of them final and decided (save for that pesky Milwaukee All-Star game). And today’s game was just the same. Though the Rays and Orioles battled fiercely, hanging at a gentlemanly 2-2 tie until the 14th inning, the predictable chaos that is real life eventually crept in and brought the whole thing crashing down.
After Taylor Teagarden gave the Orioles the lead with a double in the 7th (only his sixth double since 2010), Ben Zobrist tied the game with a swinging bunt in the top of the eighth. The game remained tied until Manny Machado walked to the plate and, like the cocky upstart that he is, ended it all with a two-out single to score Adam Jones, forcing the players and spectators to return to real life where there are things like taxes, death, and airings of The X Factor on TV.
As I discussed on Twitter the other week with the legendary Stevo, I’ve always wondered what the breaking point for an extra inning game is—what is that point when the possibility of a win is outweighed by the arms burnt up, the bench depleted, and the lethargy that will seep into the next day. At this point in the season and with days quickly running out, that number was probably somewhere in the 30s, though a highly scientific study must be done in the future.
The victory was the Orioles 13th consecutive in extra innings and runs their record in one-run games to an absurd 27-7. That gives them a winning percentage of .794 which would break the ‘81 Orioles record for winning percentage in one run games. Did the Orioles sacrifice a human to the alter of the baseball gods for this to happen? Can pitchers actually pitch to the score? As actual scientist Dr. Venkman once said, “Call it luck, call it karma, I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe that we were destined to get thrown outta this dump.” Clearly, Dr. Venkman was referring to the dump that is the bottom of the AL East.
With the victory, the Orioles are now a half game up on the Yankees in the AL East despite a run differential that is still in the negatives, a roster that has three players with more than 100 strikeouts and less than 40 walks, and a rotation with a combined payroll of $8.23 million or roughly a little less than a Hiroki Kuroda. The loss puts the Rays 3.5 back in the Wild Card despite a +76 run differential and a pitching staff of young, very sexy arms.
No one ever said life was fair.