It was easy enough to round up the usual offensive suspects after the Orioles tied their all-time single-game record with 26 hits on Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics, but it was the unusual suspects who carried the day.
New right fielder Gerardo Parra, who had gotten off to a slow start at the plate after being traded to the Orioles on July 31, went 5-for-6 to tie a career high.
Recent call-up Steve Clevenger set a career high with four hits and Caleb Joseph set a personal best with four RBIs, including a clutch two-out, two-strike, two-run double that put the Orioles in front in the second inning.
That was before anyone could have imagined what would come, and it was the key to a four-run rally that looked like it was about to fizzle after the Orioles put runners at first and third with no outs.
"You never know which run is going to be the deciding run," Joseph said. "Especially in the first two games, we've taken them down pretty much to the wire, so to get a couple runs there felt big at the moment. You have no idea at that moment that we're going to score however many more. In clutch situations like that, you just try not to do too much."
Joseph also homered in the sixth and now has 11 home runs and 42 RBIs this season. Clevenger, who was in the lineup as the designated hitter, had a double and three singles, scored two runs and drove in another. So, the two backup catchers combined to go 7-for-10 with five runs and five RBIs.
Parra came into the weekend series with just nine hits in his first 46 at-bats (.196) as an Oriole after hitting .328 for the Milwaukee Brewers. He has broken out big-time against the A's, amassing nine hits in 15 at-bats in the first three games of the four-game series to raise his Orioles average to .295. Included in those nine hits were two home runs, one of them a two-run shot that helped the Orioles rally from behind on Saturday night and a solo homer that tied Sunday's game in the first inning.
He came up in the eighth with a chance to join Cal Ripken Jr. as the only Oriole to have six hits in a game, but said he was not thinking about that — or the fact that he needed a triple to hit for the cycle.
"I don't think about that,'' he said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play. Somebody said I could make a triple for the cycle, but I just was trying to put the ball in play and get a base hit."
Parra said that he is starting to fit into the Orioles lineup and enjoying the chance to take part in the pennant race.
"I just feel more comfortable with the team,'' he said. "I'm trying to make winning plays and help make a win, just nothing about me. It's about the team."
Recent outfield call-up Henry Urrutia also had a big day. He set a career-high with three RBIs, which wasn't too hard since he had just two major league RBIs in 25 previous games. He also made a highlight-reel catch to steal a home run from former Oriole Danny Valencia in the seventh inning.
Chris Tillman Growth Poster Day
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman smiled sheepishly when asked what he thought of Sunday's promotion, a life-size growth poster of the 6-foot-5 right-hander.
"They asked me how I felt about it and we kind of joked about it," Tillman said. "But I'm pretty sure it is the joke of the clubhouse right now."
Tillman said he's heard plenty of barbs since the poster made its way through the clubhouse this weekend. Many, he said, came from players who hunt and joked they couldn't wait to use the poster for target practice.
"It's all in good fun," Tillman said. "It's actually a really cool deal. I had one of [Los Angeles Angels third baseman] Troy Glaus when I was younger in my room … so I remember having one when I was a kid."
The poster giveaway has been on hiatus for a few years at Camden Yards, but in the 2000s the Orioles had giveaway growth posters of 6-foot-7 Daniel Cabrera in 2007 and 5-foot-9 Brian Roberts in 2006.
Around the horn
Country singer Briana Tyson performed a 10-minute concert before the first pitch Sunday and then sang the National Anthem and God Bless America. … Oakland pitcher Sonny Gray, who was scratched from his scheduled Thursday start with back spasms, is expected to start the series finale against the Orioles on Monday. … Ryan Flaherty's hitless streak reached 34 at-bats, which is the longest by an Oriole since at least 1974, according to Stats Inc. He was in good company until he struck out in the seventh inning. Ripken also had an 0-for-33 streak in 2001.