Carroll County Times

O's: 'We've won a lot of games like that'

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Orioles' 10-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday looked like a game from the 2012 season.

From the stellar performance from the bullpen to the unlikely role players coming up with big hits. From an extra-inning win to an Adam Jones shaving-cream pie.

Those characteristics from Baltimore's turnaround season last year were all on display Thursday.

And much like last season, the Orioles continued to battle when they fell behind. In the end, they were the victor. This time, catcher Matt Wieters was the hero as he hit a walk-off grand slam to right field in the bottom of the 10th inning.

"We've won a lot of games like that before," Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth said. "To come back like that, kind of a back and forth type of game, it was a good win."

The Orioles' bullpengot a break when Friday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers was postponed by rain. The two teams will play a split doubleheader on Saturday.

The bullpen was taxed on Thursday as starter Miguel Gonzalez exited in the sixth. A combination of Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, Jim Johnson, and Troy Patton pitched 4 1-3 innings, giving up just one run on three hits, and keeping Baltimore in the game through the late innings.

"The bullpen did a great job," Wieters said following the win.

The Orioles' bottom third of the order also played a key role in keeping the team in the game. Just like last season, hitters who are not household names made an impact.

Left fielder Nolan Reimold hit a two-run homer to center to tie the game 3-3 in the second after Baltimore initially trailed 3-0. Later, designated hitter Steve Pearce hit a two-run blast to left which gave the Orioles a 6-5 lead and put them in position to win.

Pearce had been slumping entering the game, but Baltimore manager Buck Showalter kept his confidence in the Orioles role player, just as he has before.

"There's no pressure, like I told him," Showalter said. "He's going to be in the big leagues. He's a big league hitter. He just missed hitting one the first time up on a changeup. He had another big swing later."

But in the end, it was Wieters, one of the Orioles' star players, who ended it.

Wieters, typically one not to show too much emotion, flipped his bat after the swing, rounded the bases, and flipped his helmet off, jumping into the pile of teammates crowding home plate.

"It's just the very few times he can be himself," Showalter said. "You don't do the things he does without having emotion about the game."

Showalter added that he likes to see his players be themselves and have fun on the field.

"Last thing I've ever tried to do here, especially with this group, is supress a personality," Showalter said. "I want them to be themselves and let it rip. Thank God we're not all alike."

After the game, Wieters continued to have fun. He knew the shaving-cream pie from Jones was coming during the post-game interview, ran through the dugout and dodged a pair of pies before retreating into the clubhouse.

Twenty-year-old third baseman Manny Machado also played an instrumental role in the win, continuing to show the veteran instincts he put on display late last season. After Markakis singled to lead the 10th, Machado dropped a perfect bunt down the first-base line and beat the throw for a single.

"I think about that as development," Showalter said. "All the people in the farm system who don't let him not be good at that. Everybody thinks he's got a chance to be a run producer. That's something that, it's not their fault, it's our fault if they don't come up here with that. That's what I take out of it."

However, unlike the majority of the time last season, the Orioles did not get a quality start from Gonzalez. The 28-year-old right-hander went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA last season.

But on Thursday, Gonzalez went just 5 2-3 innings and gave up five runs on eight hits. However, after giving up four runs in the first three innings, he settled down and even retired 10 consecutive batters at one point.

"I hope everybody kind of sees what he did tonight," Showalter said. "He gave us a chance to win instead of imploding and having a real challenging night out of our bullpen. He found a way to get through it, and found a way to keep us in the game."

With the extra-inning victory, Orioles fans got their first glimpse of the late-inning success Baltimore relied on in 2012. The Orioles went 16-2 in extra-inning games last year in the regular season, and won their 17th straight on Thursday.

McLouth said it was good to see the team battle back against a dominant starter in Rays ace David Price, as the team picked up where it left off last season in extras.

"It's just knowing that you're never out of a game," McLouth said.