BALTIMORE – For 11 straight games, the Orioles had hit homers, 25 in all. For a while, it looked like this team, which won on Opening Day without a home run, was becoming overly dependent on the long ball.
On Wednesday night, not only did the Orioles win a game without a home run, but they did it on a way they never had before—on a passed ball.
Caleb Joseph scored on a passed ball by Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole, and according to STATS, it’s the first time in Orioles history they’ve ended a game in that fashion.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the 10th inning, Adam Jones held up on a 2-1 slider by Rule 5 draft choice Joe Biagini, and when Thole muffed the ball, Joseph came home, and the Oriole had a 4-3 win before 15,404 at Oriole Park.
With two outs, Joseph doubled to center off Biagini (0-1). Joey Rickard, the Orioles’ Rule 5 pick, who had three hits, had an infield single, his third hit of the game. After Rickard took second, Manny Machado walked to load the bases. Then it was Jones’ turn.
“Most guys maybe swing at that pitch because it looks like a fastball coming in. He takes it, and sure enough, we get a clank there,” Joseph said.
The Orioles (9-4) can win with the home run, but it’s important that they win with small ball, too.
“We had a double. Was that ‘little’ or whatever you all call it? Little, small, wee. I consider that pretty big,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“I don’t make light of it. I understand what you all are talking about. But scoring runs is scoring runs. It’s always important to have different ways to do it.”
Joseph, who has yet to hit a home run or even drive in a run, thought the offensive diversification important, too.
“We can still hit home runs. We like the attitude this team is taking. It’s a very unselfish team. I don’t think people now feel like they have to do it all,” Joseph said.
“I don’t think [Chris Davis] or I don’t think [Matt Wieters] or Jonesy feel like they have to do it. They trust that the lineup 1 through 9 can pick each other up versus having to go up there and create a mound of sawdust because they’re trying to win the game by themselves.”
Mychal Givens (1-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for the win.
Givens was the sixth pitcher. As one of the few Orioles pitcher with options, it’s possible that he might have to be sent to the minors if the team needs a fresh arm on Thursday though Showalter downplayed that possibility.
The Orioles (9-4) had lost four of five, and raced to a quick 3-0 lead in the first off R.A. Dickey.
Rickard singled. He’s hit in 12 of 13 games and scored on Machado’s double. Machado has hit in all 13 games, one shy of his career best. Jones walked, and Davis singled to score Machado. Jones came home when Mark Trumbo hit into a double play.
The Orioles had only two more hits and a walk off Dickey in the next five innings.
Ubaldo Jimenez invoked memories of his 2014 iteration by allowing the leadoff runner in each of his five innings to reach. He walked four, and gave up two runs, leaving with a one-run lead after five.
Edwin Encarnacion’s RBI single in the third and Josh Donaldson’s leadoff home run in the fifth accounted for the runs. Donaldson, has six home runs in 16 games.
When Jimenez left, Toronto (8-8) trailed 3-2. Jimenez has often been the beneficiary of home runs. He knows teams have to win other ways, too.
“If you’re in this, of course you’re waiting for the guys to hit homers. It’s really fun. But at the same time, if you get to win a game like this, it’s fun too,” Jimenez said.
Brad Brach, who hadn’t allowed a run this season had a narrow escape in the sixth. Rickard threw out Ryan Goins trying to score on Thole’s single.
He nearly had another one escape in the seventh when Jones’ diving catch froze Michael Saunders at third. Saunders later scored on Encarnacion’s double.
“Two teams, pretty deep, both with strong lineups, pretty good teams throughout. It's going to be a dogfight every time we play them. We know that, and we're ready for it,” Rickard said.
NOTES: Kevin Gausman allowed three runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings for Norfolk at Charlotte. He walked two and struck out nine. … Marco Estrada (1-1, 2.77) faces Chris Tillman (2.77) on Thursday night.