BOSTON - The Orioles trail the Rangers by one game in the wild card race following tonight’s 5-3, 12-inning win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Show of hands if you counted them out before this series. Don’t be shy.
“I think we obviously know what’s going on with the race, and the fact there’s another wild card team out there, it makes things more interesting,” said first baseman Chris Davis. “I think this is what they wanted when they threw in another wild card. But we’ve just got to go out there every day and focus on the nine innings in front of us, and I think that’s actually kind of helped us the last few days, just knowing we’ve got to go out there and focus on the next nine innings.”
Davis delivered a two-out, two-run single off left-hander Franklin Morales in the top of the 12th to break a 3-3 tie.
“When I first went up there, I was really just looking for something out over the plate,” Davis said after increasing his RBI total to 134. “I saw the guys earlier in the inning go up the middle, and really just trying to stay up the middle with him. He’s got a lot of life on his fastball. He’s a guy I’ve faced a few times in the past, so I had a little bit to go off of. But he buckled me with a breaking ball and I was somehow able to get the barrel to it and get it through the infield.
“Anytime you’re in a game like that, you want to be the guy to get the hit, whether it’s a squibber up the middle or a home run. You can feel the intensity with both teams going out there trying to get a run. I’ll take it however I can get it.”
The bullpen turned in 6 1/3 scoreless innings, with four hits, an intentional walk and six strikeouts.
“Huge,” Davis said. “This is not a team you want to go into extra innings with in this place. The crowd’s always into it, they’ve got guys who can swing the bats well. The wall comes into play. It’s definitely a hostile atmosphere, but our guys were good, they battled. They threw strikes, which I thought was huge. Get ahead and really put the pressure on them to get hits.”
Just another Orioles-Red Sox game, where it’s just as much about surviving as winning.
“They’re a good team,” Davis said. “This is a tough place to play. Everybody knows that. They’re not backing down for anything. They’re not setting their roster for the postseason yet. They’re out there grinding, trying to get as many wins as they can and you have to respect that.
“We’ve been here before. I think last year we were obviously really good in one-run games, and I think we kind of learned a little bit about ourselves and what it takes to compete in those games. This year is no different. We know its crunch time right now and that we’ve got to take whatever we can get.”
Kevin Gausman was sensational, striking out five of the six batters he faced.
“To be honest, I just tried to go out there and throw strikes,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve really focused on more than anything coming out of the ‘pen. You can’t walks guys, especially in a tight game like tonight. I’m still kind of getting used to throwing out of the bullpen, but I felt comfortable out there. You pound the strike zone and use Wiety (Matt Wieters) and use what you know against the hitters.”
Manager Buck Showalter used Gausman in consecutive games for only the second time.
“I think a big reason why is because we really have a hole out there and that’s Darren (O’Day),” Gausman said. “We kind of need someone to step up and I’ve been that guy the last two nights. He’s got a lot of confidence in me and I’m just trying to continue to pitch well and let that confidence grow in me.”
Gausman said he’s learned to ignore whatever adrenaline is pumping in key situations, the better to command his pitches.
“To be honest, it’s kind of backed off a lot,” he said. “I feel like I’ve finally zoned in and I’m not really paying attention to it. I just try to go out there and throw strikes and pound the zone.”