Jul 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) hits a single during the third inning in game two against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: David Lough’s Excellent Inning

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Baltimore Orioles left fielder David Lough was put into the game on Sunday against the Red Sox at Fenway as a defensive replacement. The Orioles had just scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 6-1 lead and it made sense to replace starter Delmon Young with the best fielder on the bench.

The old adage is that you can never score enough runs at Fenway Park, and that proved to be true again as Boston plated five runners in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score at 6-6.

The Baltimore bullpen, which has so often been so good of late, had a meltdown in the seventh inning. It was so bad that even David Ortiz got a hit off Brian Matusz! Yes, weird.

Between the two teams in the seventh inning, a total of 18 batters would come to the plate, and 13 hits would be registered.

But just as quickly as the bullpen broke down, it locked down from that point forward. Tommy Hunter had a scoreless eighth, while Brad Brach gave the Birds three scoreless innings to eventually get the win. And Zach Britton recorded the save in the 12th to join in keeping the Red Sox off the board.

But the difference-making hit came from the defensive replacement David Lough who led off the top of the 12th with a long triple to center field. He would score on a single through the drawn-in infield off the bat of J.J. Hardy.

But Lough’s excellent inning was not yet over. After Britton struck out Dustin Pedroia to begin the bottom of the 12th, Big Papi drilled a ball off the Green Monster in left. Lough played the bounce off the wall perfectly and fired to second base to nail Ortiz going for a double. You live by the wall; you die by the wall. It was a big out of a big man – about the only big guy on the diminutive footie-sox team – and the truth is that the Sox are indeed bigger than an average little league squad, no matter how much it does not look that way.

Zach Britton finished the game with a deserving strikeout of the annoying Mike Napoli, who is now officially the only player who looks back at umpires more than Derek Jeter. “I didn’t swing at that, therefore it is a ball; what is wrong with you?”

It was a good thing indeed that Britton did not allow the game to continue further.  Darren O’Day was not really available and was the only person remaining in the bullpen. At the beginning of extra innings, I jokingly sent this tweet:

Apparently Buck Showalter was thinking the same thing, as he said after the game, “I was talking to Chris Davis, I said ‘You’re next.’ He was ready.”  Showalter said later in the press conference, in reflecting on the Sunday (5/6/12) 17-inning game at Boston, “I had some deja vu going because Chris was in the dugout that game. He was DH-ing. I’m going, come on. That’s the kind of game that good teams win. I was thinking that in the dugout. It’s so easy just to say, ‘Boy, it wasn’t meant to be today.’ Instead of making it happen.”

The win puts the Baltimore Orioles into first place by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost to the Oakland A’s. The Birds are also now eight games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season.

The Jays should find out very soon the actual extent of injury to their slugger Edwin Encarnacion. But in any event, they have claimed Nolan Reimold off waivers. Mark my words, this will haunt the Baltimore Orioles, even as I acknowledge there was no way open for them to retain him.

The Orioles will tonight begin the annual four-game set with the rival Nationals, with the first two games in Washington. For a good article on this rivalry and the history of the franchises, check this out at our partner site BirdsWatcher.

Chris Tillman will throw for the Orioles, and the current Nationals roster is a combined 12-for-32 (.400) against him. Denard Span has the most at-bats and best numbers with a 4-for-10 with two doubles and four RBIs.

The Orioles will face Stephen Strasburg for only the second time ever. In May of 2012 he beat the Orioles by giving up only one run on four hits in five innings. He may be more remembered in that game for hitting a home run off Wei-Yin Chen. I would expect Nick Hundley to start tonight after Caleb Joseph’s long day yesterday. Hundley has faced Strasburg seven times with one hit to show for the effort.

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