It was the second inning and Orioles were already in position to blow the game open.

Mark Reynolds had started the inning off with a home run — his fourth in six games. Then Manny Machado doubled and Omar Quintanilla walked. There were no outs, and with Nick Markakis up, the Orioles had Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz on the ropes.

On the first pitch of the at bat, Markakis tried to get a bunt down and bounced the ball right in front of the plate. Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had plenty of time to throw out Machado at third, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world if Markakis was running out the bunt.

But he wasn’t, thinking that the ball had hit the plate and was foul. So, Markakis was out easily at first.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter went out to question the call, but the conversation lasted about 5 seconds before he turned right back around.

“I like the thought process,” Showalter said of the bunt after the game. “He just didn't quite execute it. Nicky is a guy that's always trying to do what's best for the team. I applaud him for the thought process. Maybe if he gets it down in the right spot, it turns out really well.”

Still, the Orioles weren’t getting fooled by anything Buchholz was throwing. With Quintanilla on second with two outs, J.J. Hardyhit a single through the right side of the infield. Quintanilla screamed around third base, but Boston right fielder Cody Ross got off a good throw and had him beat by a couple steps to the plate.

Basically, Buchholz recorded one out in the inning and the Orioles gave him two more. It’s hard to play the hypothetical game in baseball, but if Markakis runs out the bunt and Quintanilla doesn’t try to score, the Orioles have the bases loaded with one out and their 3rd and 4th batters in the lineup coming up. A big inning would have been likely.

Buchholz settled down after the second, allowing one hit the rest of the way until he exited after the eighth inning. That would have been unlikely if the Orioles make the second a big inning.

There were plenty of other chances all night — the Orioles grounded into three double plays and were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position — but even another run or two in the second would have completely changed the game. 

evcook@baltsun.com
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