So, uhhhh… Jason Grilli threw a nice eighth inning.
And there... there was that Joey Gallo home run-- you know that’s 22 for him. He leads the team, and it was his first home run in July, so maybe he’s…
You know, I uh… I was encouraged by Martin Perez’ first six innings, though. Three runs on five hits, just three strikeouts, but only one walk, you know? He was at 73 pitches.
You’re not here about that, are you.
[dead stillness, just utter eerie silence, and no movement]
Look, you were there. You’ve been there for many of the seventh innings this season. I suspect they were your doing, weren’t they? I don’t mean to accuse, it’s just that-- well, you know....
It begins as a high-pitched buzz, like the sound of a TV turned on but the volume all the way down. Quiet enough that you may not even be aware of it, unless someone turned it off. In its absence, you would know it had been there. But not now. Not yet. It is a high-pitched buzz, it is a harmless infield single between the pitcher and the third baseman.
Then almost imperceptibly, the hum deepens a little. Yes, it’s definitely *some*thing now. A buzzing of a cell phone set to vibrate and in another room. If you are speaking, you’ll miss it, but in the silence, it’s definitely there. A buzz, a call, a sound that beckons you, but you cannot reach. It is a bouncer up the middle. It is a pitching change.
Then the sound increases. It is a whisper in your ear. Close enough that you can hear the timbre and almost make out the voice. Yes, that cadence is familiar, and it sends a chill down your spine. You try to lean away, but suddenly you realize that no matter where you lean, the whisper follows, like some specter with a secret, floating through the room to stay one inch from you. “Matt Bush walked a guy to load the bases” it says.
Then comes what sounds like the creaking of a door, open, close, open, close, You move towards the front of the house, but beneath your feet the floorboards smoothly and quickly fade into water. You were running towards the door, but with the first unexpected step into the water, you fall all the way down. Rougned Odor fields the ball cleanly and throws it home to force out the lead runner, but Robinson Chirinos just… misses. The run scores. The bases stay loaded.
Every step towards the door draws you deeper, deeper into the living room pond, first to your knees, then to your waist, slowing you further with each step of progress. The door swings wide again, and a colony of bats flies through. One of those bats hits a single that bounces off the wall to score another run.
As they swirl and squeak through the living room, the pond has now turned to hand soap, too thick to run through, and too slippery for your feet to get any grip. You fall again, struggling to keep the soap out of your eyes. Manny Machado bloops a ball into the shallowest left field space to score another run and keep the bases loaded.
You gasp for air and dive deep, knowing that if you can just get low enough, you can lurch towards the door and close it. As you sink beneath the surface, the hinges creak again, and a swarm of bees enters the room. Jonathan Schoop singles to left field, and the bases are still loaded.
You find the floor and push yourself upward with all your might. You were right. You reach the door, and with one soap-covered hand, you push with all your might. It slams shut. Mark Trumbo strikes out, and so does Chris Davis. One more out, and this nightmare inning is over.
But the brief silence is a ruse.
Violently bursting through the door now, there is an entire flock of Orioles. One by one they come home. The bats turn into Orioles. The bees turn into Orioles. The floor is Orioles. You are an Oriole.
Oriole Oriole Triple Oriole--
You awake in a cold sweat. Jason Grilli is on your TV. It is the eighth inning, and he is retiring the side in order. Perhaps it was all a dream. And then he turns...