ANAHEIM, Calif. — Stevie Wilkerson’s strange night in the wildest Orioles game of the year included a three-run defensive mishap in center field, a game-tying hit from the batter’s box and a major league first on the pitcher’s mound.
Wilkerson pitched the 16th inning of a 10-8 victory over the Los Angeles Angels that ended Friday morning, becoming the first position player in major league history to earn a save in Baltimore’s longest game of the season by time and innings. Afterward, amid the Orioles’ best clubhouse celebration of 2019, Wilkerson received a shower of various liquids, knowing only "it didn’t smell too good.”
“I don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around it yet," Wilkerson said. "What a wild game. That was just crazy. I’m glad I could go out there and be part of getting us a win.”
Making his third pitching appearance of 2019, Wilkerson, a ultility man who has played second and all three outfield spots for the Orioles, retired Brian Goodwin, Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols in order in the 16th after Jonathan Villar hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the top half of the inning.
Watching as both teams whittled down their available arms, he borrowed a pitcher’s mitt in the 13th in case he was needed. When he was, he became the combined 20th pitcher used in the 6-hour, 19-minute game. The only position player to take the mound, Wilkerson displayed the same soft tosses he had in prior outings, throwing no pitches above 56 mph.
“Dr. Poo Poo comes in and does a great job getting three outs,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m hoping for three at-'em balls. It was below the hitting speed.”
Wilkerson didn’t make too much of a deal about retiring Pujols, a future Hall of Famer, to end his perfect inning. The scoreless frame lowered his ERA to 2.25.
“I don’t have much of an approach out there,” Wilkerson said. " I tried to just keep it simple, keep it the same as last time, and just float that thing over the plate.”
The game only reached the 16th after Mike Trout’s bases-loaded double in the bottom of the 15th inning tied the game off left-hander Tanner Scott, the Orioles’ last available reliever. He entered with an 8-5 lead after Jace Peterson, making his 2019 Orioles debut, hit a go-ahead two-run single then scored on Hanser Alberto’s fourth hit of the game.
Scott allowed four of the first five Angels he faced to reach, three via walks, before Trout battled back from an 0-2 count and laced a double into left field with the bases loaded. The first two runners scored to tie the game, but Dwight Smith Jr. and Villar combined to throw David Fletcher out, though it took a 2-minute, 41-second review to extend the game. Scott got Shohei Ohtani to foul out to send the game to the decisive 16th.
Between the 15th and 16th, the Orioles scored five runs off Angels right-hander Griffin Canning, who had been scheduled to start Friday night’s contest before both teams ran their bullpens dry. The extra-innings stalemate followed an eventful end to regulation. The Orioles took a 2-1 lead into the seventh before Kole Calhoun’s bases-loaded line drive with two outs in the seventh left Wilkerson turning around and leaping in desperation. The ball rattled off his glove for a three-run double, erasing the Orioles’ one-run lead when it could’ve ended the inning. The ball had a 99% catch probability, per Statcast’s measure based on exit velocity, launch angle and defensive positioning.
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But Wilkerson tied the game in the top of the eighth with an RBI double after Smith drew the Orioles within one with a sacrifice fly.
“It was a wild one," Wilkerson said. "We went up, we went down, extra innings. We just hung in there and came out on top.
“I think that was a gutsy performance by everybody. We stuck it out, and anytime you come out on top in a game of that length, it’s a good feeling.”
Trey Mancini’s go-ahead home run in the ninth was his 23rd of the season and his sixth in his past eight games, with those contests following the one in which he snapped a hitless streak of 24 at-bats. But Goodwin sent the game to extras with a solo shot of his own off Mychal Givens.
Givens closed the eighth by striking out Trout looking with the go-ahead run on third before making Ohtani look silly on a changeup for a strikeout to open the ninth. Goodwin, who entered as a defensive replacement in the top half, hit the next pitch a projected 411 feet for a game-tying home run, the first Givens had allowed since June 16.
Miguel Castro and Richard Bleier combined to keep the 10th and 11th scoreless, with Bleier pitching for the third time in as many days. Gabriel Ynoa, pitching on consecutive days for the first time since late April, covered the next three innings. After Scott’s troublesome frame, Wilkerson, the first player in history to start a game and earn a save, finally closed it out.
“I’ve never had to do anything like this,” Hyde said. “This wasn’t something I thought about at FanFest.”