ONLY IN THE PLAY-OFFS (and HDL) – Part 2
After posting the “Part 1” article on Sunday night, I was anxious to get started on Part 2 where I will cover Game 2 played on Sunday between Lost Pizza Orioles and V-Brothers A’s. The intensity of the first game on Sunday carried over to this game. Both of these teams know each other very well. Two weeks ago when these teams met for the last game of the regular season I tried to persuade these two teams to allow their non-important game to end in a tie, but neither team would accept a tie. Two weeks ago these teams were tied 5-5 and after the extra inning, the Orioles ended up on top 8-6.
So what happened last Sunday?
James Skinner started for the Orioles and Alex Vivas started for the A’s. These are two pitchers who keep the ball around the plate and don’t walk very many batters. For 3 innings on Sunday, Alex Vivas had faced 10 Orioles batters while James Skinner had faced 13. Vivas had struckout 3 O’s and Skinner had struckout 4. In the top of the 4th inning Skinner faced 5 A’s batters and they left 2 runners on-base.
In bottom of the 4th, the Orioles went: single, triple, single, walk, walk, RBI Fielders Choice to take a 3-0 lead. The A’s brought in Juan-Jose Castillo in the 5th inning but by that time, the O’s were hot at the plate. After Ramon Moreta singled and stole 2B, Casey Engan came through with a big hit to push the O’s lead to 4-0. The Athletics finally got on the scoreboard in the 6th inning after Andy Clay and Juan-Jose reached base safely and were driven in by Alex Vivas. Meanwhile Juan-Jose was a lot sharper on the mound and held the O’s scoreless in the 6th & 7th innings.
Hanging on to a slim 4-3 lead in top of the 8th inning, all the Orioles had to do was prevent the A’s from scoring and the game would be over. In top of the 8th, the A’s came out swinging: double, single, single, triple made the score 6-4 and a runner on 3rd and NO outs. Otis Edwards gave the A’s a comfortable 7-4 lead. But the score could have been 8-4 when Nick Harris slapped an outside pitch down the right field line for a triple. O’s relief pitcher, Cesar Roman got Greg Bacchus to pop-up and keep the score 7-4.
Morale on the O’s was at it’s lowest and got even lower when lead-off hitter, James Skinner, K’d looking. Juan Blanco was the next hitter and when Juan stepped in the batters box, you could tell he was focused on hitting the best pitch he could find, as far as he could hit it. Blanco hit a 1 ball-2 strike Juan-Jose pitch into the left field gap for a double. But when O’s started getting excited, they were knocked back down when Larry Hunsucker’s short pop-up made 2 outs for O’s.
Orioles next batter was Bo McMinn. All Bo wanted to do was hit the ball hard somewhere. When Bo hit a bouncer in the hole between third & short and Kevin High lost the handle, Bo was safe at 1st base and the score was now 7-5. A big hit by John McPhail rejuvenated the Orioles players. Everyone who was coming to the plate were “all business”. Cesar Roman added to the rally with a solid single up the middle. This loaded the bases and brought Johnny Gonzalez to the plate.
Earlier in the game, Johnny Gonzalez had no hits his first 4 at bats so he was (0/4). O’s Manager, Paul Baioni, got Johnny Gonzalez’s attention and told Johnny, “You have been waiting all day for this opportunity. It is your time to shine!!” Well Johnny came through with a “lucky” hit in the right-center gap that appeared Carlos Varela might catch but for some reason, the ball was not caught and when the ball hit the hard ground behind Carlos, it bounced toward the outfield fence and that was all the time needed for the 3 Oriole base-runners to score and give the O’s an 8-7 lead. GAME OVER.
Hitting Stars: A’s – Juan-Jose Castillo (4 for 4); Nick Harris (3for5); Alex Vivas (3 for 4); Kevin High (2 for 4); Orioles – Casey Engan (3 for 4); John McPhail (3 for 4); James Skinner & Ramon Moreta (2 for4)
Pitching Numbers: A’s Alex Vivas: 4 IP; 3 R/ 3 ER; 6 H, 3 K, 2 BB; Juan Jose: 4 IP, 5 R/ 5ER, 8 H, 3 K, 0 BB
Skinner: 6 IP, 2 R/ 2 ER, 6 H, 4 K, 2 BB; Juan Blanco, 1 IP, 4 R/ 3ER, 4 H, 1 K;
Cesar Roman: 1 IP, 1 R/ 1ER, 2 H, 0 K’s, 0 walks