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#pounditTuesday, June 18, 2024

Orioles CF Stevie Wilkerson makes history with save

Stevie Wilkerson

Those who stayed up until nearly 1:30 am PT on Friday morning got to witness MLB history.

The Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles needed 16 innings before a winner was decided in their game. Baltimore came out on top 10-8 thanks to Jonathan Villar’s two-run home run off Griffin Canning in the 16th. In the bottom half of the inning is where all the fun happened.

Baltimore, which had used nine pitchers to that point, opted to bring in center fielder Stevie Wilkerson to attempt the save. Wilkerson had pitched twice in the month, both in blowout situations with his team trailing by double digits. This time he was going in to shut the door like Mariano Rivera. And Wilkerson did just that.

Benefiting from a somewhat generous strike zone from the umpires, Wilkerson lobbed in pitch after pitch in the 50-mph range. He averaged 54.3 mph on his lobs and got the Angels out 1-2-3 for the save.

Wilkerson became the first position player to earn a save since the stat became official in 1969.

It’s hard to know what was more comical — watching Angels hitters struggle to hit off a slow pitch softball guy lobbing balls in there, or the fact that Wilkerson now has a 2.25 ERA and 0.50 WHIP. A center fielder has a better ERA than all but one Orioles pitcher this season.

So after six hours and 18 minutes, the game ended on a historic note. The Angels, who came back in the bottom of the ninth and then with three runs in the bottom of the 15th, may be kicking themselves over a few decisions. One, the decision to send David Fletcher to score from first on a bases loaded double by Mike Trout with one out hurt the team. Fletcher was called out on the field. Though replay seemed to show he may have gotten his hand on the plate before being tagged, the evidence was not conclusive enough to overturn. Had he not been sent, the Angels would have had runners on second and third with one out. Instead, Shohei Ohtani flied out to end the inning and the Orioles won it the next inning.

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