BOSTON — With your back against the wall, odds of winning slimmest? That’s where these Orioles thrive.
At least that’s what the O’s have shown over the past eight days, with their 12-8 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday, the latest example of a collective clutch gene that’s grown in this recent string of comeback victories.
Maybe a few six-run deficits were too nice from the Red Sox.
“We could be down 0:30 and still stay positive, keep going, try to keep up and come back every time we have a chance to win a ballgame,” said Anthony Santander through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “We remain confident, we have faith in our abilities, we have faith in who we are and what we can do.”
What the Orioles did on Friday was simple: They went over a six-run hole after seeing Kyle Bradish batter around; They hit 10 unanswered runs starting in the seventh inning, ending the game in the eighth and then going on with a ninth four run for good. they set a season high with 12 runs; and they continued to showcase the revamped competitive culture they believe is festering this season.
“We do a lot of our damage late in games. I don’t really know why that is or where that came from,” said Austin Hays, whose two-run homer over the Green Monster in eighth reduced the Orioles’ lead to one. “I think it’s just the mindset you’re talking about – just never stop; never, ever thinking we’re out of the game.”
Friday was perhaps the most unlikely Orioles comeback of all. It was their first win of at least six heats in nearly six years, not equaled since their last postseason team did so on August 14, 2016 against the Giants in San Francisco.
They faced that deficit twice on Friday.
And as of Friday, the Orioles hadn’t hit 10 runs in a game this season. That’s how many they scored in the last three frames of the night alone.
“It’s definitely one of the best,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Friday’s win during his tenure as manager. “…I hope these kinds of games continue to build confidence in our batsmen. I think our boys now realize that there is no clock in baseball and you play 27 outs.”
How could that – probably the O game of the year – even happen?
For starters, you need to look at the launcher. Bradish’s shortest game of his young career began trailing 4-0 against Baltimore before recording an out. When he quit with just five outs recorded, his six earned carries were the best of his pro career — at any level.
And there wasn’t much help around him. In that fateful first inning, the O committed two errors before conceding two outs. They were held without a baserunner for three innings before Trey Mancini’s one-out walk in the fourth gave them a tiny glimmer of hope.
That opening was broken even further when Santander brought him home a shot later with his team-leading eighth homer. But it was immediately closed again when Beau Sulser, who made his Orioles debut in what appeared to be a mere clean-up situation, returned those two runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
And then Jorge Mateo and Hays emerged, hitting long balls in the seventh and eighth innings and setting the stage for Ramón Urías to hit Rougned Odor with a single miss and throwing error and level what was once a lopsided affair.
And that ended up being just a four-run table-setter in the ninth.
“It was the ultimate team-at-bat in the last three innings,” Hyde said. “These are some of the better bats I’ve seen around here in years.”
Friday was a revelation, a breakthrough in this latest phase of baseball that will give the Orioles hope for even greater hopes in the seasons to come. So in that respect, Friday was pretty much the same.
“Those guys out there are grinders,” Bradish said. “We show that we can keep up with the best.”