BOSTON - Today’s game fell eight minutes short of tying the longest in Orioles history.
Eighteen pitchers were used, the most ever in a single game at Fenway Park.
Adam Jones became the first Orioles player to homer in the 17th inning or later since Andy Etchebarren in the 19th inning in 1967.
According to Elias, Chris Davis is the first player to go 0-for-8 and wind up as the winning pitcher since Rube Waddell on July 4, 1905. The game was played in Boston. The losing pitcher was Cy Young.
No, not Jamie Moyer.
The Orioles’ bullpen allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings, and it wasn’t by Davis. He went two scoreless to close out an insane, 9-6, 17-inning victory that completed the Orioles’ first three-game sweep in Boston since June 10-12, 1994.
The Orioles are 19-9 and in sole possession of first place in the American League East. They currently have the best record in baseball because the Nationals are still playing tonight.
Other than that, it was a fairly mundane afternoon.
“Just when you think you’ve it all, some days you just come out here and assume the position,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Like Billy (Martin) said a long time ago, ‘See what the game has in store for you.’ That was fun. It was a long day. You’d like to get something good out of it. You talk about team wins, I’d like to see somebody top that one team-wise. I think everybody made a contribution. If there’s such a thing as having as rough a day as you can have, for Chris to end up being maybe the star of the game, so to speak, that’s hard to believe.”
Showalter didn’t want to use a position player to pitch. He despises that practice. But he didn’t have much choice.
“It depends on what position you’re in,” he said. “We took every relief pitcher as far as I was willing to take them. I’m not going to take away from our strength. We stretched people. We could have stretched them further, but I just refused to. I’m not going to do that. It’s a long season and this is, hopefully, going to be a strength for us and I’m not going to jeopardize it in early May. And I know Bobby (Valentine) feels the same way, so we were fortunate to have somebody with a pretty good pitching resume in Chris.
“There was a lot of decision whether to pitch him or play him at a position coming out of junior college when I knew him over with the Rangers. Luckily, we had a little history with it.
“They all think they can pitch until you get out there. I was always the designated guy who had to pitch when the team was getting blown out in Triple-A with Johnny Oates. Until you remove that screen and see how close that batter is and how close that wall is, it’s a whole different gig.
“Chris has some experience with it. The other guy was Nicky (Markakis). I waited as long as I could before I had to break it to Chris. It’s not something you want a guy thinking about for a long time. I just basically said, ‘Get your glove, go down and warm up. You’re in next inning unless we score.’”
Brian Matusz walked to the bullpen, but he never warmed up. It was Davis’ game.
“It was a consideration, but after I thought about it, I wasn’t going to throw a whole pitching staff in disarray and jeopardize a guy who’s throwing the ball real well,” Showalter said. “We had a lot of wheels turning in our organization that shouldn’t be turning. I’m sure Bobby felt the same way. You reach a point in the game where you’re getting diminishing returns, so you’ve got to keep that in mind.”
Showalter didn’t leave the decision to Davis.
“You don’t put somebody in that position,” he said. “That’s not their decision. They’re all going to say ‘Yes’ or ‘If you want me to.’ It’s like asking somebody if they want to walk somebody or not. That’s not their job, that’s yours, and we’re fortunate it worked out. I did tell Nicky when he went out to right field to get good and loose when he was throwing between innings.
“It was actually uplifting. Chris came in and got some outs, and it sort of re-energized the whole dugout again. Every relief pitcher who appeared in that game came out into the dugout. I was lucky to have a good seat to watch it.”
Davis’ fastball was clocked at 91 mph in the 16th inning, but it dipped in the 17th.
“That second inning, it kind of came down a little bit,” Showalter said. “The adrenaline kind of went away. But the biggest thing is the ability to throw strikes. And I hope you understand, everything to lose and nothing to gain for a hitter in that position.”
The Orioles will make at least one roster move tomorrow to fortify the pitching staff.
“You talk about when it rains, it pours. They’re playing a doubleheader at Norfolk, so we’re trying to get through that,” Showalter said. “I started looking at possibilities in the 11th inning. We’ll shuffle the cards and see what we come up with.”
The Orioles are returning to Baltimore tonight. The Rangers will be waiting for them. It doesn’t get any easier.
“I think the thing our guys will do very quickly is realize we’re getting ready to play the best team in the American League the last two years and probably playing as good as anybody in baseball,” Showalter said. “Pitching once again will be a premium if we’re going to compete with them, but I’m real proud of them. That was a great intensity game for us. And think about (Matt) Wieters back there. My gosh, he never gave in. I’m so proud of him.”