People shouldn’t dwell too much on the fact that the Baltimore Orioles dropped the nightcap of last night’s doubleheader to Toronto. More often than not teams split twin bills, and its when you get swept in a doubleheader that you should start to worry. The Orioles won the first game 4-1 as a result of Steve Johnson giving the Orioles five solid innings and putting the team in a position to win. As I said, the best teams have a tough time sweeping a twin bill, and in game two the Orioles seemed just a big sluggish. However the 9-5 score in favor of Toronto isn’t indicative of the game itself, as the Orioles battled on numerous occasions to stay in the game.
Game one was in effect a bullpen start, although these days it’s tough to decipher who’s a starter and who’s a reliever. Steve Johnson’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Adam Jones hit his 32nd homer of the year, this one of the two-run variety. Ryan Flaherty also chimed in with his fifth home run of the season, as the O’s took the game 4-1. Flaherty’s an interesting case that I’ll probably touch on a bit this off season. He of course was a rule 5 draft choice out of the Chicago Cubs’ organization, and as a result the O’s had to keep him on their big league roster all season or he’d go back to the Cubs (who at various points of the season made it very clear that they’d like to have him back). At this point of course rosters have expanded and Flaherty’s in no risk of being sent down (and thus back to Chicago), however it’s interesting that a rule five draft choice is contributing for a team in the thick of a pennant race.
Wei-Yin Chen didn’t bring his best stuff in game two, although he settled down nicely after the first couple of innings. Edwin Encarnacion his a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Orioles down right off the bat, and Toronto added two more in the second to put themselves ahead 4-0. However Robert Andino‘s two-RBI single in the second inning put the O’s right back into the game, and Chen was able to regain some composure. The Orioles managed to leave the bases loaded twice over the course of the game, which tells the story right there. However the death blow for the Birds in this game was J.P. Arencibia‘s grand slam in the seventh. To that point the Orioles had battled back through a Nate McLouth homer among other things, however that put Toronto in the driver’s seat by a long shot.
By virtue of New York beating Minnesota, the Orioles dropped 1.5 games behind in the AL East, however Oakland lost last night at Texas so they didn’t lose any ground in the Wild Card race. The Orioles’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot now stands at six games. Again, that means any combination of Orioles’ wins and L.A. Angels’ losses equaling six clinches a playoff spot for the O’s. For the record, L.A. hosts Seattle tonight with Zack Greinke pitching for the Angels and Erasmo Ramirez for Seattle. Orioles fans need to turn into Mariners’ supporters on the side for the next couple of days!
The Orioles’ series with Toronto continues tonight, and mercifully it’s only one game! (These doubleheaders throw a lot of people off in a lot of different ways; but come the off season doubleheaders are another thing I might take a look at in terms of pros and cons.) Joe Saunders will get the ball for the O’s, coming off of his best start since being traded to Baltimore. Unfortunately he doesn’t have anything to show for it since he didn’t figured into the decision as the game went to the 11th inning. Saunders will be opposed by Toronto’s Aaron Laffey, who’s lost four straight decisions and is battling command issues. All of these games are big from here on out…the Orioles need to jump on Toronto early tonight to remove any drama from the game early on, and to get the Baltimore faithful singing that Seven Nation Army song for the duration of the game!