It had to happen eventually. After 37 straight batters retired, Koji Uehara's streak of perfection came to an end, and the Red Sox lost.
The unfortunate conclusion came after eight low-scoring innings which, really, probably should have been a shootout instead. Neither Ryan Dempster nor Scott Feldman looked to be at their best, walking a remarkable 10 batters between them in eleven innings. When you add in a homer a piece and plenty of hard hit balls, it's a recipe for mutual disaster.
And yet, one way or another, they managed to escape. There were more than a few well-hit balls that seemed to find gloves, occasionally even for double plays. Even when a run did go on the board it didn't happen cleanly, with Xander Bogaerts' bringing in the second Red Sox run on a rope hit straight to Nate McLouth in left, who dropped the ball to boot--though it almost certainly would have been a run-scoring sacrifice fly anyways.
That one at bat basically encapsulates the best and worst aspects of the first eight innings for each team. Good hitting, inopportune placement, and for the Orioles, mistakes on defense--they would make three in total on the night.
The upshot of it all, though, was a 2-2 tie headed into the last innings. A tie which Craig Breslow would have to fight hard to preserve, coming on with runners on the corners and nobody outs. Somehow, he would get the job done. Two ground balls with the infield in followed by a fly ball kept the tie a tie. But it only served to postpone the game-winning run for Baltimore.
That, of course, would come as a result of the aforementioned streak-ending hit--a triple from Danny Valencia, of all people. Coming in the first at bat of the ninth, Koji got two quick strikes up-an-in, then came outside looking for the third. Valencia hit a long fly ball to right-center field where, earlier in the game, Shane Victorino had tracked down a similar bid for an out. This time, though, he just couldn't quite make the play. While he reached the spot, his glove came up just an inch short, and that was that for the streak. With Valencia making his way to third, all that was left between the Orioles and victory was a sacrifice fly from Matt Wieters and a scoreless inning from Joe Johnson.
There is still some good news from the night, though: the Rays lost to Texas, leaving the magic number for the division down to just three.
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