Shortly after the Orioles dugout went wild, ecstatically celebrating Nolan Reimold's eighth-inning grand slam Friday night, the club really erupted on the Kansas City Royals.
There's no love lost between the Orioles and Royals dating to last year's American League Championship Series, when the Orioles were swept in four games by Kansas City.
But in a 14-8 comeback victory over the Royals on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 45,420 at Camden Yards, it was as if the Orioles finally released some long-festering frustration on baseball's best bullpen. The key to Kansas City's posting the best record in the AL this season has been its ability to shorten games with a bullpen that entered the night with a major league-best 2.48 ERA.
But the Orioles scored 12 runs (11 earned) against the Royals relievers Friday night. They scored 10 runs -- eight coming on two grand slams -- in the eighth alone, marking the most runs the club has scored in one inning since 2002. It was the first time since 2006 that a team hit two grand slams in one frame.
"I think we took a little frustration out on the bullpen," said catcher Steve Clevenger, who hit one of the two grand slams in the eighth, the first of his career. "It's good going into the next two games of the series swinging the bats well like we did. … You have to have a solid plan to score some runs off their bullpen and it feels good going into the rest of the series."
The Orioles' eighth-inning rally opened with Reimold's first career slam -- a ball that hit off the top portion of the left-field foul pole against Royals setup man Kelvin Herrera -- triggering a strange sequence of events that put the game on pins and needles.
The Orioles hit three homers in the inning. Clevenger hit his slam on a full-count slider from Joba Chamberlain into the right-center seats. In between, there was chaos.
Reimold and Manny Machado hit back-to-back homers, and two batters later, designated hitter Chris Davis was hit in the right hip by a 93-mph fastball from Franklin Morales. Davis erupted, immediately slamming his bat into the ground, breaking into two pieces as he stared down Morales.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter sped out of the dugout to calm down his slugger. But after both teams were issued warnings, Showalter was quickly ejected by home plate umpire Mark Carlson for his second ejection of the year.
Showalter said after the game that Morales should have been ejected.
"You don't have to warn anybody if you think somebody's throwing at him," Showalter said. "He got hit by a pitch intentionally. Chris has certainly had his share of that. It just happened in New York twice. You get to a point to where you're tired of getting your nose rubbed in it. Sometimes it's harder to do what Chris did than what some other people might have done. It gets time and time again turning the cheek, but our guys responded well to it."
Davis, whose 22 homers are the most in the AL since the All-Star break, said he was frustrated after getting hit Wednesday in New York by CC Sabathia.
"I had one go behind my head the other night and then was drilled I think the next at-bat in the arm," Davis said. "We hit a grand slam, another home run, a couple rockets. It just didn't look right, regardless of whether it was on purpose or not.
"In that situation, you lose your head a little bit, your emotions are high. I've played against Franklin for a number of years. I respect him as a player. It is what it is. It's part of the game unfortunately. There's been a little bit of feel lost for it. I always thought growing up if a guy gets drilled, somebody else is going to get drilled and then it's over. But nowadays it seems to carry over game to game. Hopefully, it's done with."
The Orioles (68-72) are now winners of three straight games for the first time in nearly a month; they swept a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics from Aug. 14-17.
"Your emotions, some guys wear them on their sleeves," Davis said. "Most of the time, I conceal mine pretty well. Not tonight obviously. You know, it's part of the game and it was fun for us to put up those runs and kind of get the momentum in our dugout and to have a game where we didn't have to bite our fingernails down to the quick [with a] one-run game, two-run game. It was nice to have a lead."
Though his team is closer to the AL East cellar -- two games ahead of the last-place Boston Red Sox -- than the second AL wild-card spot (they trail the Texas Rangers by six games), Showalter said before the game that he was approaching the season's final weeks with the mindset that the Orioles would win their last 23 games.
"We're trying to win 22 in a row," Showalter said after the game. "When we left [the] advanced meeting [Friday], we were trying to win 23. We'll start [Saturday] trying to win 22 more."
Still, most of the game played out like the past four weeks, with the Orioles taking one step forward and two steps back. They closed the Kansas City lead to one run twice, but were unable to tie the game.
Heading into the eighth, the Orioles trailed 6-4 and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the night. But they sent 13 batters to the plate in the eighth.
Facing Herrera, one of the game's top setup men, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out. Jonathan Schoop hit a leadoff double, pinch hitter Steve Clevenger reached on a Mike Moustakas fielding error and Gerardo Parra hit an infield single to short.
Reimold then hit a 2-0 pitch from Herrera high down the left-field line, taking a few steps out of the batter's box before seeing if it would land fair of foul. The ball hit high off the foul pole, sending the Camden Yards crowd into a frenzy.
"I thought going around the bases they were going to challenge it and it was going to be taken away," Reimold said. "And it would just be a strike. Didn't want to be disappointed.
"I've worked hard to get back up here. Just trying to get into a groove and feeling a little bit better. But it's good to have a good game and it felt good to go around the bases with the crowd cheering in Baltimore."
For Reimold, who rejoined the big league club Sunday after being designated for assignment last month and accepting an outright to Triple-A, batted leadoff for the third straight game, giving the Orioles a patient hitter atop the lineup. Reimold has drawn four walks over the past two games.
"It's a nice moment for him," Showalter said. "Real proud of him. This is a guy that basically cleared waivers again and he knows we get what he can bring. … I'm happy for him. That's probably a highlight when you think about the challenges he's been through. A lot of people would have given in and he hasn't."
Reimold's slam chased Herrera from the game. The right-hander was charged with a season-high four runs (three earned).
Machado followed with his 28th homer of the season off Morales and the next four Orioles batters reached base -- including Davis on the hit by pitch. Clevenger then hit the second grand slam of the inning to give the Orioles a 14-6 lead.
It marked just the eighth time in baseball history that two grand slams were hit by one team in the same inning. The Orioles are the only franchise to do it twice. Larry Sheets and Jim Dwyer both hit grand slams in the same inning on Aug. 6, 1986.
Before their eighth-inning eruption, the Orioles struggled to break through against the Royals. An overturned replay review went against the Orioles, squashing a sixth-inning rally.
Lorenzo Cain, who hit .533 against the Orioles last postseason on his way to winning ALCS MVP honors, had his second career multihomer game, hitting a pair of solo home runs off Orioles right-hander Mike Wright.
The Royals (83-57) hit three homers off Orioles pitching. Alex Rios' solo homer off reliever Brad Brach was his third of the season and ended a 40-game drought.
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, the Orioles loaded the bases with no outs against Royals reliever Luke Hochevar, who issued two walks and allowed a single.
Caleb Joseph hit a ball to the left side and Moustakas made a diving stop. But second baseman Ben Zobrist bobbled Moustakas' throw to second, and second base umpire Gabe Morales initially called Schoop safe, ruling that Zobrist's foot came off the bag before he gained possession, allowing a run to score.
Royals manager Ned Yost challenged the call, and after a 3-minute, 17-second review, the call was overturned. Schoop was out at second, erasing the potential go-ahead run from scoring position. The Orioles were unable to score another run that inning, stranding the tying run at third.
Wright allowed four runs on four hits over five innings. He struck out two and walked two.
Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez hit his first career major league home run -- one of four Orioles homers on the night -- a solo shot to left field to open the third inning.