By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
9:13 PM PDT, August 30, 2011
Since being recalled last week from the minors, Orioles second baseman Ryan Adams has been a whirlwind, hitting everything in sight and making play after play in the field.
Then, on Monday in a loss to the New York Yankees, he had his "This is the big leagues, kid" moment, striking out in all three of his at-bats.
Adams, a former second-rounder who possesses a definite swagger, didn't seem fazed by the rough game and neither did Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Adams was back in the starting lineup again Tuesday for the ninth consecutive time, and it was his long fly ball to the right-center gap that gave the Orioles a wild, 6-5, 10-inning win against the Toronto Blue Jays.
"It felt good. I had an opportunity earlier, too (when he popped up with the bases loaded in the eighth)," said Adams, who is 11-for-30 in his return to the Orioles. "I was pretty upset with myself. This time, I got ahead in the count 3-1 and I just knew ... I was looking at something over the plate."
With runners on first and third and one out, Adams drove a pitch from Toronto reliever Brian Tallet (0-1) that allowed Mark Reynolds to jog home from third with the game-winner. The Orioles entered the 10th trailing by a run, but pinch-hitter Jake Fox tied it with a single to center.
Adams' reward was his first shaving cream pie in the face.
"It was a really good feeling," Adams said. "Watching TV, I've always kind of wanted a pie in the face, so it was nice."
In the ninth, the good feelings were at a premium for the Orioles and the announced crowd of 10,756.
Closer Kevin Gregg entered with the Orioles clinging to a 4-3 lead and immediately surrendered a single on his first offering. He then issued a four-pitch walk to ninth-place hitter Mike McCoy.
Then it really got interesting.
Yunel Escobar attempted to bunt, and the Orioles corner infielders started in. Escobar pulled back, and immediately the Blue Jays baserunners at first and second caught the Orioles in a bad defensive position.
Adams ran toward first, leaving second base open. Third baseman Robert Andino headed home and shortstop J.J. Hardy was stuck between a vacated second and a vacated third, while the Blue Jays successfully orchestrated a double steal.
"I know where (the mistake) is, but that's a blame game," Showalter said. "I know you're curious about it. I know exactly what should have happened and didn't happen and it won't happen again, especially considering the people."
Escobar then hit a sinking liner to right that Nick Markakis caught on a dive. The right fielder jumped up and threw a perfect strike to third but couldn't get McCoy while pinch-runner Dewayne Wise scored the tying run. The Orioles protested both tag-ups Wise, in particular, appeared to leave early -- and were denied.
"That's why I made a visit, to make sure we appealed to third and we appealed to second," Showalter said. "We've got an overhead (shot) that I'll be looking at shortly. Not that it matters now."
Gregg eventually escaped the mess, but was charged with his sixth blown save in 25 opportunities.
"I try to dwell on some of the positives. A lot of guys would have let that inning get real big and away from him, and he held them to one run," Showalter said about Gregg, who walked three (one intentional) in the ninth. "He's had some real good outings for us against tough competition. Tonight was one where command wasn't as good, but he came back and got some big outs."
The Orioles then appeared to throw the game away in the top of the 10th when Kelly Johnson led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch by Willie Eyre (1-0).
The blown save cost a win for starter Jeremy Guthrie, who allowed multiple baserunners in all but two of his six innings. Yet all the Blue Jays runs came on one swing, a second-inning, three-run homer by rookie third baseman Brett Lawrie. It was set up by two walks, the only ones Guthrie issued.
"It was all right," said Guthrie, who wore No. 46 on the mound for the first time since the death of former Orioles great, and a former No. 46, Mike Flanagan last week. "Battled and had a shot to win and we ended up winning the game, so it's good."
Guthrie salvaged the uneven outing in the fifth. After he served up a leadoff double to Eric Thames, sure-handed catcher Matt Wieters' dropped a pop-up that probably should have been fielded by Reynolds. It was Wieters' fourth miscue of the season and broke the club's 76-inning errorless streak.
When Adam Lind singled to load the bases with no outs, Guthrie's night looked tenuous. He escaped, thanks to his own defensive ability.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a sharp bouncer that Guthrie quickly gloved, before throwing to Wieters to begin a 1-2-3 double play. Kelly Johnson flied out to end the inning.
"It felt like I had to battle every inning, I don't think I had many clean ones," said Guthrie, who threw 111 pitches. "It was a big situation. I was able to get the pitch down and Matt turned a nice double play. So that was obviously a pivotal play. That inning could have spun out of control pretty quickly with the hitters they had on base and the guys coming up to the plate."
The Orioles gave Guthrie the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Vladimir Guerrero double to right that struck the area between the wall and the out-of-town scoreboard and skipped past a confused Jose Bautista.
The hobbling Guerrero tried for a triple it would have been his first as an Oriole but he was thrown out. As he lumbered off the field, he received a standing ovation. The Orioles' other runs came on Wieters' 15th homer and a throwing error by Toronto starter Brett Cecil.
A Dunkirk native and former University of Maryland closer, Cecil allowed four runs in six innings in the no decision.
It took one extra inning for the game to ultimately be decided, and it was the newcomer, Adams, who delivered the final blow one day after his worst day at the plate as a big leaguer.
"I'm sure he enjoyed it tremendously and he has played really well for us the whole time he has been up here since he got back up," Guthrie said. "We have a lot of confidence in him and I think he has shown he has a lot of confidence in himself when he goes up to the plate."
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