BOSTON — Backs against the wall, winning probabilities at their slimmest? That’s where these Orioles flourish.
At least, that’s what the O’s have displayed over the past eight days, with their come-from-behind 12-8 win over the Red Sox on Friday at Fenway Park the latest example of a collective clutch gene that has grown in this recent spell of comeback victories.
Maybe a pair of six-run deficits were too kind of the Red Sox.
“We could be down 30-0 and we’re still staying positive, still staying in it, trying to compete and come back every time we have a chance to win a ballgame,” Anthony Santander said through team interpreter Brandon Quinones. “We stay confident, we trust in our abilities, we trust in who we are and what we can do.”
What the Orioles did on Friday was simple: they surmounted a six-run hole after seeing Kyle Bradish hit around; they scored 10 unanswered runs from the seventh inning on, tying the game in the eighth and then going ahead for good with a four-run ninth; they set a season high with 12 runs; and they continued to showcase the revamped competitive culture that they feel is festering this season.
“We’re doing a lot of our damage late in games. I don’t really know why that is or what that comes from,” said Austin Hays, whose two-run homer over the Green Monster in the eighth whittled the Orioles’ deficit to one. “I think it’s just the mindset you’re talking about — just never stopping; never, never thinking we’re out of the game.”
Friday may have been the Orioles’ most improbable comeback of them all. It was their first come-from-behind win of at least six runs in nearly six years, not accomplished since their last postseason-bound team did so on Aug. 14, 2016, against the Giants in San Francisco.
On Friday, they faced that deficit twice.
And entering Friday, the Orioles hadn’t scored 10 runs in a game this season. They scored that many across the evening’s final three frames alone.
“It’s definitely one of the top,” manager Brandon Hyde said of where Friday’s victory stacks up in his managerial tenure. “ … I hope that these types of games continue to build confidence in our hitters. I think our guys are recognizing now that there’s no clock in baseball and that you play out 27 outs.”
So how did that — arguably the O’s game of the year — even happen?
For starters, you have to look at the starter. Bradish’s shortest outing of his young career opened by staking Baltimore to a 4-0 deficit before recording an out. By the time he exited, with just five outs recorded, his six earned runs marked the most in his professional career — at any level.
And there wasn’t much help around him. That fateful first inning saw the O’s commit two errors before recording two outs. They were held without a baserunner through three innings before Trey Mancini’s one-out walk in the fourth gave them a slimmest glimmer of hope.
That opening was cracked ever-so-much-wider when Santander brought him home with his team-leading eighth homer one at-bat later. But it was promptly shut again when Beau Sulser, making his Orioles debut in what seemed to be merely a mop-up situation, gave back those two runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
And then arose Jorge Mateo and Hays, connecting for long balls in the seventh and eighth innings, setting the stage for Ramón Urías to score Rougned Odor on a single and throwing error, leveling what was once a lopsided affair.
And that, in the end, was just a table-setter for four runs in the ninth.
“It was ultimate team at-bats those last three innings,” Hyde said. “Those are some of the better at-bats that I’ve seen here over the last few years.”
Friday was a revelation, a breakout in this recent stretch of baseball that the Orioles hope is setting the stage for even bigger hopes in the seasons to come. So in that vein, Friday was more of the same.
“These guys are grinders out there,” Bradish said. “We’re showing that we can hang with the best of them.”
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