Game 33 // Seventh Inning, Baltimore // Triple Schoop

BOTTOM OF THE SEVENTH: ORIOLES 7 (2) – 5 TIGERS

 

It’s rally time at Camden Yards, with the Orioles down three and the crowd chanting the “Seven Nation Army” bass-line refrain: “Ohhhh, oh-oh-oh-ohhhh, ohhhhh…”  They roar out in repeated rounds, batter after batter, until the Tigers give in—hypnotized into a five-run seventh inning.

Up first is Caleb Joseph, who lines out on a 2-2 count to left-field—a stinging hit that’s all unluck, a double anywhere else in the field, a signal to the next batter that Alex Wilson is hittable, beatable, about to be beaten around, the big inning on the brink.

The Orioles, I notice, have opted for the shiny, three-toned helmets—white, orange and black—the biggest resistance to the latest trend of matte & monochrome, and a continuation of bygone, abandoned experiments by the ‘80s Reds, ’97 Mets.

Joey Rickard comes up next for Baltimore, as Wilson delivers, sending a hard-hit single on a rope up the middle. Worry now for Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus in the dugout, as he looks out at the mound, then at Manny Machado stepping up to the plate, back at the mound, back at Machado.

Wilson delivers, his initialed name stitched on the back of his jersey, “A. Wilson” fluttering in the breeze as his arm fires home, a first-pitch strike, fastball down the middle.

Machado nods at himself, an okay-okay-you-got-me, not-gonna-happen-again grimace, as he readies again and whiffs on the next pitch, the home-run swing come up empty. He smacks his cleats with the end of his bat, paces around the dirt behind home.

As Rickard takes a big lead at first, Ausmus relays a long string of signs out from the dugout, tapping nose, ear, hat, chin, chest, nose again, ear again, repeat. Wilson throws over to first. Safe. Mark Trumbo, meanwhile, strokes his chin in the dugout, the unwitting good-luck charm for a rally about to spring open.

Machado rips one down the line to left—just foul. Alex Wilson looks shaky.

And on the next pitch, we see a hitting genius at work, we see Manny being Manny, with a two-strike slider slotted low and outside, poked up in the air, over the head of Ian Kinsler, into right-field for Machado’s (league-leading) 49th hit of the season.

Wilson takes off his hat, wipes his forehead with both shoulder sleeves, and delivers to Adam Jones, his last pitch of the day. Jones sends another outside slider onto the outfield grass, reaching across the plate for it, a Machado-imitating RBI single and the lead’s cut to two for Detroit.

Alex Wilson comes out, looking like he’s about to cry, replaced by Justin Wilson, and I see one blood-stained volleyball walking toward the mound, another one drifting away from it, floating off sadly on the waves to sea, off a boat sinking lower with each new Baltimore batter.

The fans at Camden Yards call out again: “Ohhhh, oh-oh-oh-ohhhh, ohhhhh…”

Chris Davis whiffs on a slider, outside and low, and the fans quiet down. Then the next pitch is looped into right-field, an RBI single putting Jones on third, the score at 5-4, and Davis on first base, unstrapping his elbow-guard, handing it off to the coach, watching Mark Trumbo stride up to the plate against Wilson 2.

Darren O’Day, meanwhile, warms up in the O’s bullpen, next to a giant salted-pretzel ad, the ball about the size of a single salt grain, getting loose as he glances out to the field. Buck Showalter watches from the dugout, his arms folded and his mouth a straight line, in the stern area between smile and frown.

Mark Trumbo shoots a scorched line-drive to third, just foul, Adam Jones leaping out of the way. He makes good contact, on the next pitch, but flies out to Steven Moya, who charges forward into the catch and whips it home on a bee-line. Jones tags, runs for home, runs back to third, and stays put. Still 5-4.

Then it’s Pedro Alvarez, off-season transfer from Pittsburgh, with as much power as anyone on the field, but stuck in the straight-jacket of a .208 average.

High slider from Wilson. Hard ground-ball from Alvarez. A dive from Miguel Cabrera. And a ball rolling sharply through a hole, onto the right-field grass. A tie game, 5-5, men on first and third.

“Ohhhhh, oh-oh-oh-oohhhh, ohhhh…”

The cheers of a stadium stock-full of new energy make their rounds, louder than any moment before. The curtains lift. A spotlight flickers on. And into the bright lights of a rally finale walks Jonathan Schoop. The orchestra plays. Shoop, shoop ba-doop… shoop ba-doop, shoop ba-doop…

Then, I learn something, hearing the Baltimore TV guy say something I’ve somehow never heard. Jonathan Schoop’s surname is not “Shoop.” It’s not “Scoop.” Not even “Shope.” But “Scope”—like the mouthwash brand, the magnifying rifle attachment, the perfect rhyme to former Oriole, the oddly-prounced Pedro Strop (“Strope”).

So Schoop steps in, with the table set for a win, in a tie game with two runners on. He takes a ball. Then misses on a fastball. Another two outside pitches. And on a 3-1 count, he slaps a fastball to the opposite field, down the right-field line, a bases-clearing, game-winning triple.

“No throw!” shouts Gary Thorne, “and the Orioles lead it 7-5 on a three-bagger by Schoop!”

Schoop, Schoop ba-dope, Schoop ba-dope, Schoop ba-dope…

Pedro Alvarez sprints home to score the winning run, his helmet a-jiggle, the Orioles finish the rally, the home fans go wild. Brad Ausmus shakes his head in the dugout, the Tigers never come back.

It’s mid-May, the last-place-predicted Orioles are in first. The Yankees are in last. The AL East is up for grabs. Baltimore: take it, it’s yours!! 

 

 

Previously:

7th Inning: BAL vs. BOS

3rd Inning: NYM vs. SFG

8th Inning: SFG vs. LAD

6th Inning: LAD vs. MIA

5th Inning: HOU vs. BOS

3rd Inning: WSH vs. ATL

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