Baltimore Orioles slugger Danny Valencia found himself blissfully unaware of Koji Uehara's incredible parallel streaks. Valencia didn't get wise until after he ended one of them just four batters short of the major league record for a relief pitcher.
Valencia's leadoff triple in the ninth inning Tuesday night stopped at 37 Uehara's consecutive retired batters streak, and his hit also set up the go-ahead run in a 3-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox that was critical to Baltimore's postseason aspirations.
Valencia has been a huge addition to the O's pennant drive, batting .317/.344/.618 with eight homers in 128 plate appearances coming into Tuesday. Via the Associated Press, Valencia said he no idea about Uehara, who also hadn't allowed a run in 30 2/3 innings over 27 appearances since July 9:
''I wasn't aware of it,'' Valencia said, ''but I'm not surprised by it because he's got great stuff.''
In a pennant race, sometimes less information is more. So Valencia should avoid reading the following paragraph:
Coupled with a 7-1 victory by the Rangers against the Rays, the O's are two games in the loss column behind the wild card leaders with 12 to play.
Uehara entered not having allowed anybody on base since Aug. 17, but Valencia's drive to center on an 0-2 pitch barely eluded outfielder Shane Victorino and rolled to the fence for a triple. Matt Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a lead, marking Uehara's first earned run allowed since June 30!
"Victorino made a great play earlier in the game," Valencia said. "I'm thankful he couldn't get to mine."
Pitching for the White Sox in 2007, Jenks retired 41 straight batters at one point to set the record for relievers. Mark Buehrle holds the record for all pitchers at 45, done in conjunction with his perfect game in 2009.
''You don't like your chances there with Koji, but we got a big hit from Danny," O's manager Buck Showalter said.
Chris Davis also hit his league-leading 51st home run of the season to break Brady Anderson's franchise record that had stood since 1996. The Red Sox managed just three hits against Baltimore pitching, and couldn't take advantage of six walks allowed by starter Scott Feldman over five innings. The Orioles also committed three errors, with Manny Machado making two at third base. It's a good thing the Red Sox, whose magic number is three, could afford a clunker.
Jim Johnson, often quite an adventure come the ninth, finished for his 46th save.