You might argue that yesterday’s game was merely a formality for the Baltimore Orioles, or even for Boston. However the fact is that they schedule 162 games, and regardless of the implications yesterday’s game was the final one on the schedule. Many teams would have barely shown up at the park, and only tried to simply go through the motions. Many teams would have also thrown in the towel once they went down 5-0 to the division champions. However the Birds aren’t simply “many teams;” they’re the Fighting Showalters, and they always play until the last out.
Starter Chris Tillman typifies the attitude of the current crop of Orioles in the sense that he even pitched yesterday. With the game literally meaningless for both teams, Buck Showalter gave Tillman a pass in the sense that he told the Orioles’ #1 starter that he didn’t have to pitch if he didn’t want to. However as Gene Hackman’s character says in the movie Replacements, winners want the ball. Tillman may have struggled a bit in this particular game, but there’s no question that he’s a “winner.” Tillman’s line: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R (4 earned), 1 BB, 5 K.
Boston had a 4-0 lead in the fourth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored on a throwing error by catcher Steve Clevenger. However more importantly the throw led Chris Davis into the runner, and Davis injured his wrist on the play. Showalter and trainer Richie Bancells came out, and eventually Davis exited the game and ended perhaps the greatest season in franchise history. Davis finished the season hitting .266 with 53 home runs (Orioles’ team record). As he left the field Davis was given a standing ovation from Orioles fans, who are certainly looking forward to seeing how Davis compliments this season in 2014. Incidentally, Davis joined Adam Jones and Matt Wieters on the bench, neither of whom played yesterday.
Nick Markakis walked to load the bases in the last of the fifth, following base hits by Clevenger and Jonathan Schoop. J.J. Hardy’s two-RBI double to center field cut Boston’s lead to 5-2, and following a Steve Pearce walk Nate McLouth’s two-RBI double cut the lead down to 5-4. Danny Valencia’s RBI-ground out would score Clevenger from third, and the Orioles had managed to tie the game in one inning. They would take the lead in the sixth when Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty would add on two runs off of RBI-doubles. Boston would put a run across in the ninth on Jim Johnson, however eventually he would induce a 5-4-3 double-play, to end the game.
However this time around it’s not only the game that was over; that double-play also ended the season for the Orioles. There’s no preview of tonight’s game with the pitching match-up weaved into the end of this column, as that’s all she wrote. (Ironically, the Orioles’ next opponent – in a regular season game – is scheduled to be the Boston Red Sox on Opening Day, 2014 at Camden Yards.) Nevertheless, the 2013 Orioles ended their season on a high note with this comeback win against Boston. They also proved a point by winning the game as they did, because as we’ve heard so many times they just don’t give up.
So we’ve reached the end of the line in a sense. I started writing game recaps in February when the Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day of spring training at Ed Smith Stadium. This will be my last one – until next spring training that is! It’s kind of a cold, cruel reality in a sense for anyone who loves baseball. Certainly the Birds had their chances to extend the season past yesterday, but that’s another story for another day. I’d like to personally thank all of our readers for sticking with us this year, and I would invite you to continue to visit Birds Watcher throughout the off season. We’ll have fresh content in some manner on a daily basis! But for the time being, the Orioles will go into the night with regard to 2013. However fans should take hope in the way the season ended, as these Fighting Showalters will be back next year.