Wrapping up an 8-7 come-from-behind win

SAN FRANCISCO - Just as Jonathan Schoop’s fly ball fell into the left field seats today for a three-run homer, the Orioles’ improbable comeback complete, I tweeted the news and shot a glance into the visiting dugout. Players almost leaped out of their spikes, a few of them at risk of flipping over the railing. The euphoria could be felt for miles, or at least into the far reaches of AT&T Park, where the celebration still was draped in orange and black.

And then it disappeared, much like the Giants’ lead.

The Orioles took the field for the bottom of the ninth inning, and closer Zach Britton stranded two runners for his 37th save in an 8-7 win that already qualified as one for the ages. And one that will be replayed on MASN as an instant classic during those many winter nights to follow.

So how would manager Buck Showalter describe the reaction in the dugout?

“Obviously, elation, but also our guys are so mature they realize there’s still three outs to get,” Showalter replied. “There’s that and then you start preparing for the defensive part of it.

“I was thinking about it in the clubhouse there. It might be because they’re so tired. The road will beat you up, especially where we’ve been. I’m hoping the guys get some rest on the way back and stay close by some people who like them tomorrow.”


Schoop has plenty of friends to go with 12 game-winning RBIs, tied with Chris Davis for the most on the team. The RBIs, not the friends.

“Well, first of all you’ve got to have some people out there, unless they’re solo. But Jon relishes that moment,” Showalter said. “He loves contributing to our team. It’s sincere. He likes being a guy that contributes. But, he sincerely likes when we win and he doesn’t contribute. So, there’s a lot of sincerity in his approach to the game.

“I think Jon’s been playing every game, every inning. He wants to get off the field. He controls that a little bit. No, good things seem to follow him around. He’s getting back out of the game what he’s put into it. Jon doesn’t cheat the game. It’s good to see people who approach it that way get a return for it. You watch it in the clubhouse. Guys are sincerely happy for Jon when he does well.”

You probably know the details of the comeback by now - the 7-1 deficit after six innings, the two-run seventh, Mark Trumbo’s leadoff home run in the eighth and J.J. Hardy’s RBI single, Schoop’s three-run shot off Santiago Casilla with two outs in the ninth after Manny Machado’s single and Trumbo’s two-out walk.

“Oh, the feeling is amazing,” said Schoop, who has 18 home runs. “I hit it good, but I see Angel (Pagan) was going back. I said, ‘Please get out, ball, please go.’ It went out. I’m happy. Big win for the team. I’m excited.

“This team never quits. That’s when we go in there, we say, ‘Let’s chip away, let’s keep grinding, let’s keep battling.’ Because this team from one to nine can do damage. If we put good at-bats together, we’ll score some runs.”

Schoop is likely to knock in the decisive one, as he did in the 14-inning affair against the Dodgers.

“I just go and try to go in there and do my best and try and hit the ball hard somewhere,” he said.

“We want to go to September and we want to go to the playoffs. This team fights every day, goes out there and plays hard and tries to win as many games as possible to put us in a position for the last day of the season.”

The Orioles were on the verge of going 4-6 on the road trip and falling 1 ½ games behind the Blue Jays, with a cross-country flight home before Monday’s off day. And then, it all turned around - except for the flight, which consumed the same number of hours, but was accompanied by a lot more laughs.

“It means we stay engaged and feel a little bit better about the off-day tomorrow,” Showalter said. “It’ll take two or three days for guys to get back acclimated to the time zone, but Boston’s not going to feel sorry for us. They’re trying to accomplish the same thing we are. But we knew it was going to be a challenging road trip and guys competed all the way through it and we’re still engaged in the competition.

“Go home and we haven’t heard friendly voices in quite a while. I made it act like the orange and black was ours anyway.”

Matt Wieters had a career-high five hits after collecting a pinch-hit single last night. Davis struck out looking four times, but it became more of a footnote in most stories.

“Yeah, I’ll take it,” Wieters said. “I finally had some balls to go through. It felt better the last couple of weeks, but today I actually was able to get the balls to go through.”

Is this the biggest win of the season?

“Tomorrow is always the biggest win,” Wieters said. “Well, not tomorrow because it’s an off day, so we’ll enjoy that one, but the next day will be the biggest win of the year. So, we’re going to keep working and keep looking forward.”

Perhaps these teams will meet again in October.

“The weather here in San Francisco in August kind of reminds us of October, too,” Wieters said, “but it was a grinding road trip, and to be able to grind it out and be able to get the last win and have a happy flight is good.”

Hyun Soo Kim had three hits, including an RBI double to right-center field in the seventh inning on a ball that traveled about as far as it could go in this ballpark without clearing a fence or brick wall.

Showalter is tied with Jimmy Dykes for 27th place on the all-time wins list with 1,406.

Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver would have celebrated his 86th birthday today. A game-winning three-run homer couldn’t have come on a more appropriate day.

“Of course,” Showalter said. “Big hairy guy hits a ... Jon’s not even hairy, but a three-run homer. That’s a great segue. Wish I had thought of it.”

What does it take for a team to come back from such a large deficit?

“I think they had a little help,” Showalter said. “They’ve got a really good bullpen over there and nobody runs a bullpen better than Bruce (Bochy). It’s just one of those things where a few mistakes they made, our guys were on. Manny had a big hit, Trum had a big walk and J.J. punched a ball into right. A lot of times when a reliever comes in like that, there’s a little momentum change back to them, but J.J. kept the line moving.”

The Orioles were 1-48 when trailing after eight innings until today, but they’re no strangers to late offensive outbursts.

“What it reminds you of is how good of pitching we’ve faced on this road trip,” Showalter said. “We faced another good one today in (Johnny) Cueto. We faced a really good guy yesterday, and when you get a chance you’ve got to jump in there. You always have a couple pops off even (Madison) Bumgarner. We had the bases loaded a couple times and we knew there weren’t going to be many opportunities.”

Showalter ordered an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Buster Posey with two outs in the ninth, putting the winning run on base. Denard Span sent a bouncer up the middle that Hardy gloved before winning the race to second base.

“I didn’t think he hit it hard enough to get it through,” Britton said. “It was a matter of, he’s fast, how are we going to be able to get the force at second? That was the only thing, especially with the 3-2 count. Luckily, J.J. made a great play.

“I wasn’t thinking a run was going to score, but I was definitely thinking he didn’t hit it hard enough. He’s definitely fast, so hopefully we can get an out at second.”

Britton is 37-for-37 in saves after a comeback that he wouldn’t describe as unlikely.

“Not with our offense, not with our pitching, our bullpen especially,” he said. “We’ve been doing really well. Our whole mindset has always been, give our offense a chance. If the game seems like it’s out of reach early, as a bullpen come in, put some zeroes on the board and let those guys scrape away, and that’s what we did. And the credit really goes to the hitters, though.

“It’s easy on a day game, getaway game, for those guys to get frustrated with where the score was, and those guys put together some really, really good at-bats and clawed away and let Schoopie ... You play for that big home run, and we got it.

“I think it’s the highs and the lows of the game, right? I think the hardest thing to do is stay engaged the whole way through, especially when you’re down by that many, so the credit goes to the hitters getting us back in and obviously Ty Wilson coming back out and putting up a zero in that one inning. Obviously, Brad (Brach) coming in and Donnie Hart doing a really good job.

“Everyone did a good job keeping us in it and then Schoopie with the big home run. That was huge. That was fun to watch, but at the same time, I had to get focused, so you go from pretty frustrated with where the score was to winning the ballgame, so that was pretty cool.”

As the interview with Showalter had almost reached its conclusion, an out-of-town writer asked him what his team showed today. The answer was a nice capper to an incredible day.

“Nothing they haven’t already showed and will tomorrow on the off day and will on the next day,” he replied. “You don’t start sending messages in August and September. If you have to do that, then you haven’t been doing what you’re supposed to do to get there.”

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