Destiny awaits (as they say) for the Baltimore Orioles…maybe. With last night’s 4-3 win over Boston (which in itself took a page directly out of Orioles Magic) the Orioles’ magic number stands at two. A win this afternoon, combined with a Texas win over Anaheim in one of either games of their doubleheader today would put the Orioles in the playoffs. No, you didn’t misread that! However the Orioles also find themselves in another race, that for the AL East title. With New York losing to Toronto yesterday afternoon, the Orioles are now tied for first place in the division. Drama anyone?!
Prior to last night’s game of course we saw Brooks Robinson‘s statue unveiled at Camden Yards. I remember when the unveiling was originally scheduled (in May) and they had to postphone it due to some health problems Brooks was having; at the time I remarked that it would be pretty amazing if “that game in September” ended up meaning something. Oh it meant something and then some! Steve Johnson pitched another solid five innings, although he gave up a two-run homer in the fifth which brought Boston to within one run. Johnson’s line: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 3 K. While he didn’t allow too many base runners, you can chalk this up to one of those dreaded “in between” starts for a pitcher; not his best stuff but far from his worst. Ultimately, he gave the Orioles an opprotunity to win, which is all you can ask.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the last of the second on Manny Machado‘s RBI-single which scored Chris Davis, who of course had homered in two straight games coming in last night. Strike that…make it three straight; Davis’ two-run homer in the fourth scored Adam Jones (who had reached base on an error), and pushed the Orioles’ lead to 3-0. However to their credit Boston came back in the fifth with Jarod Saltalamacchia’s above-mentioned homer off of Steve Johnson. Jacoby Ellsbury would later score in the sixth to tie the game at three.
With NY already having lost, the Orioles needed a win in order to tie for first in the division. In a close game as such, the team that rises to the occasion with a flair for the dramatic is generally the one that’s going to win. In the past we’ve seen that team be Boston almost every time, and often at the direct expense of the Orioles. However the tide has turned, and we’ve now entered a new era so to speak in the American League East (at least for this year). With the greatest third baseman of all time looking on, current Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado was the one to provide the heroics. He sent a high drive to left field that MASN’s Gary Thorne commented probably would have been a single in Fenway. However the game wasn’t being played in Fenway; it was being played in Baltimore, and at Camden Yards that’s a home run! Machado’s shot gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead; Jim Johnson shut the door on Boston in the ninth, and we have a first place tie in the AL East.
As I said above, with Texas and Anaheim being rained out they’ll play a doubleheader today (the first game at 1 PM eastern time, and the second at 7 PM). So if the Orioles win today and Texas wins that first game, we could see a celebration at Camden Yards, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 15 years. However as I said, the division is now in play once again. So here’s a possible trifecta for you; Orioles win, Texas wins (clinching a playoff birth for the O’s), and NY loses to Toronto again. That would send the O’s to Tampa for their final series of the regular season with a playoff birth in hand and a one-game lead in the division! However the fact is that one way or the other the Orioles control their own playoff destiny. All they have to do is win. Joe Saunders will be on the mound for the Birds today, coming off of three consecutive quality starts. He’ll be opposed by Zach Stewart of Boston. We all have appointments with destiny at various stages of our lives…today could be just that for the Orioles.