last night's blog post at 11:26, when the O's were trailing the Mariners 2-0. Shortly thereafter, I called it a night. Wei-Yin Chen was battling, but clearly didn't have his best stuff. Meanwhile, anybody not named Nate McLouth couldn't touch Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez, a 22-year-old Nicaraguan rookie whom I had previously confused with ex-Phillies pitcher Elizardo Ramirez. The way the Birds were swinging the bat, I didn't have high hopes, but I certainly knew that a two-run deficit was not insurmountable, especially for this year's team. When my alarm sounded at 6:00 this morning, I clambered out of bed and picked up my phone from the dresser as a reflex. I checked the notifications and found that Chris Davis had come through in the ninth inning with a game-tying two-run single, but there was no indication of a final score. "Maybe they're still playing," I thought facetiously. I had no idea how close that was to the truth.
Not only did the O's and M's play extra innings, they played an entire extra game: 18 frames total. The game took 5 hours and 44 minutes, making it the fifth-longest contest in team history. The Orioles pushed across the winning runs on a Taylor Teagarden single (giving him seven RBI and six hits on the season) and a Mark Reynolds fielder's choice grounder with the bases loaded. Jim Johnson, the 16th pitcher used in the game, nailed down his 44th save with a perfect outing, bringing the 4-2 Baltimore victory to a merciful end at 12:54 local time...3:54 AM back here on the east coast. In addition to the 16 pitchers, managers Buck Showalter and Eric Wedge combined to use 32 position players. Seattle completely turned over its infield configuration, and Buck used four different second basemen (Robert Andino, Ryan Flaherty, Steve Tolleson, and Omar Quintanilla). The O's briefly forced another first-place tie with the Yankees, held strong with a three-game cushion for the second wild card, and reduced their magic number for postseason play to a clean dozen thanks to their unfathomable 14th straight extra-innings win.
Oh, and after the game, the Birds announced that they were boosting their exhausted bullpen by calling up 19-year-old phenom Dylan Bundy, who would be the first teenager to make his major league debut for the O's since fellow first-round draft pick Mike Adamson took the mound 45 years ago. Bundy and 20-year-old infielder Manny Machado could give the 2012 team their most precocious duo since Paul Blair and Frank Bertaina both landed in Charm City at age 20 in 1964. I won't even attempt to guess what the Orioles will do next.