On a night when Dylan Bundy seemed to have it all together, the Orioles scored in each of the first four innings against the first-place Boston Red Sox and took a five-run lead into the fifth.
What could go wrong?
That, of course, is something of a trick question in what has become a nightmarish month of September. Just about everything that could go wrong has gone wrong over the past couple of weeks and that fifth inning would end up being another cruel twist in the Orioles' late-season collapse.
It would not decide the game, but it would set the stage for a discouraging 10-8 extra-inning loss in the opener of a three-game series before an announced 16,716 at Camden Yards.
Bundy's seemingly solid outing unraveled in a hurry and the Red Sox came all the way back to take the lead.
Three hours later, Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi poked a bases-loaded single through the right side of the infield off reliever Miguel Castro in the 11th inning to send the O's to their 10th defeat in their past 12 games.
But this was really about the all-too-familiar scenario that played out after the Orioles seemed to have the game well in hand.
The Red Sox had managed just a run on three hits through four innings, but they suddenly couldn't miss. Seven of the first eight batters reached base as the Sox showered Bundy and two relievers with base hits until six runs had crossed the plate and the Orioles had fallen behind.
They would regain the lead in the bottom of the inning, but that wouldn't take all of the sting out of another uncharacteristic outing by Bundy, who delivered a similar Jekyll and Hyde performance against the New York Yankees two weeks ago at the beginning of his team's fall from realistic playoff contention.
"Just that one inning I kind of let things slip away from me,'' Bundy said. "I didn't really limit the damage very well, obviously. Just leaving balls over the plate and they made me pay for them."
He would avoid the possibility of suffering his 10th loss when Pedro Álvarez tied the game back up with his first major league home run of the season and the Orioles would retake the lead on a long RBI double by Tim Beckham. But the night was still young.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would tie the game again with a leadoff homer against left-hander Donnie Hart in the seventh inning and the game would end up in extra innings, where both teams have had great success this season.
The Orioles entered the game with a 12-2 record in those games and the Red Sox were 13-3.
Alvarez breaks out: Alvarez reached base in each of his five plate appearances on Monday night. He walked his first two times up, homered in his third trip and had two singles — one of them a line drive off the left-field fence.
Fister also falters: Veteran pitcher Doug Fister, who was on the Orioles' radar before he was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox in June, delivered his worst performance as a starter, walking five batters and allowing five earned runs in just two-plus innings.
He allowed nine base runners and left with the bases loaded with no one out in the third.
No regrets: There was some question at the time why the Orioles didn't try to claim Fister, but his 4.86 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) would not have translated into much of an improvement over what the Orioles got out of the worst slot in their rotation over the same period.
Ubaldo Jiménez has a 5.96 ERA since then, but the Orioles won six of the 15 games he pitched in.
The Red Sox have won just six times when Fister has pitched.
Hays highlights: Rookie Austin Hays went hitless in his first seven at-bats after arriving in the majors as a late roster-expansion call-up, but he's making up for lost time.
His fluke two-run double in the second inning was his fifth hit in eight at-bats and gave him five RBIs over that span. He had another chance with the bases loaded an inning later and grounded sharply into a double play, then reached on an error in the bottom of the fifth and scored on Beckham's double.
He also led off the eighth inning with an infield single and hustled into second when the ball trickled past Bogaerts and into left field, but he was stranded at third with the potential go-ahead run.