Anyone questioning whether shortstop J.J. Hardy has recovered from his earlier hamstring injury is invited to check the video of the 10th inning.
Hardy reached on an infield hit with one out and scored from first base on Steve Clevenger’s double to right field, giving the Orioles a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Astros and a five-game winning streak.
“I’m going as fast as I can and then I’m just going to pick up Bobby (Dickerson) as I get to third and let him make the decision, and that’s what I did. I still haven’t caught my breath,” Hardy said, smiling.
“I was tired, yeah. After I slid home and then realized I had to go run out and meet Clevy and give him a high five, I could barely get out there.”
What does it say about the Orioles that they withstood the blown save and a 55-minute rain delay and tied the game after the first two batters were retired in the ninth?
“Resilient,” Hardy said. “It’s like a couple years ago when we had that not-give-up attitude. Maybe this jumpstarts something for us. We kind of feel that the game’s never over, and especially if it’s a one-run game.”
Clevenger had three hits tonight. The last one was the biggest.
“It’s big, just for the team,” he said after raising his average from .206 to .256. “We’re on a four-game win streak, now five. We’re never going to give up until the last out. We proved that tonight.
“When you got out there and lose a game like this, it’s tough, but we got the W and it feels great coming in tomorrow. We’re on a good roll right now. We want to continue to play through tomorrow and hopefully through Detroit.”
Tommy Hunter was relieved with two outs in the ninth after giving up the tying and go-ahead runs, and especially relieved afterward that the Orioles rallied to win.
“They got a couple hits, they got me tonight,” he said. “I’m going to come back out and give them hell tomorrow. It’s the only thing I can do.”
The Orioles made sure Hunter wasn’t tagged with a loss.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Good group of guys in here. You can’t ever really give up on these guys. And tonight’s another, ‘Hey thanks, you picked me up’. I’ll return the favor someday. And hopefully I return it quite a few times.”
The rain delay didn’t improve his mood.
“You have a day game the next day, you want to come in and close it out quick, but it didn’t fall that way. And these guys battled,” he said. “They came up with some clutch hits. Delmon (Young), Nicky (Markakis). It’s a god group of guys. A good team.
“We’re winning games. I’m pretty happy with winning a baseball game. How you’ve got to do it, sometimes you’ve got to grind it. I think we’re doing that right now and just got to continue to get better.”
Hunter said he won’t overanalyze his outings. He knows what’s happening.
“They’re hitting fastballs, they’re hitting curveballs, they’re hitting everything I throw right now. So, it’s not just one pitch,” he said.
“Just keep battling. It’s going to break through.”