Baltimore Orioles: AL East champs sweep Toronto
As if to add insult to injury, the Baltimore Orioles decided to further make their point by earning a series sweep against Toronto with last night’s 6-1 victory. In doing so, they put the post season hopes of their division rival further and further from their grasp, which I suspect is much appreciated in cities like Kansas City and Oakland. Nevertheless in their first game since becoming champions of the east, the Birds found a way to win – even with a lineup that featured some reserves, including Christian Walker (who was called up from Norfolk to play first base in his big league debut).
As we know, it all begins and ends with starting pitching. Bud Norris was better than his number indicate, however his pitch count prevented him from going deeper into the game. One thing that Toronto does well is take pitches, and a lot of Norris’ offerings were fouled off last night. Norris’ line: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 4 K. Now those aren’t horrible numbers, however Norris and Buck Showalter probably envisioned him going deeper into the game. The Orioles ended up using three relievers, which isn’t horrible. And if there’s ever a day where you don’t mind using some extra relievers it’s one immediately prior to an off day.
The Orioles broke a scoreless tie in the last of the third when Steve Pearce sent a home run over the left field wall. Two innings later he would return for an encore performance with a three-run blast, and the O’s were off to a 4-0 lead. Toronto added one in the seventh when Jose Reyes grounded into a double-play which scored a runner from third base, however the Birds weren’t in a mood to have someone come back on them – even in a quasi-meaningless game. Jimmy Parades grounded into a fielders choice which scored a run in the last of the inning, which gave the O’s a 5-1 lead. Tack on a David Lough solo home run in the eighth, and the Birds crused to a 6-1 victory to sweep Toronto out of town.
In that seventh inning, Christian Walker also notched a double for his first big league hit. I would submit that it’s rare for a team in the Orioles’ position to call up a player to make his big league debut. Most of the time a team does that at this point of the season they’re well out of contention and just trying to see what they have in a player within the organization.
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Orioles have really ridden on the bat of Steve Pearce this week given that he hit a couple of homers against New York, along with a big one on Tuesday’s clinching game as well as last night. While Adam Jones is without a doubt the leader of the team, I would submit that Steve Pearce is one of the many unsung hero’s this year for the O’s. The story of Pearce choosing not to go to another team (that happened to be Toronto) because he was promised by the Orioles that they would bring him back is something that won’t be forgotten for some time in these parts. Needless to say, I think that both parties have been rewarded for their loyalty.
Today is an off day for the O’s, the final scheduled day off of the regular season. Buck Showalter also announced before yesterday’s game that the team will have a full day off on Monday, September 29th, with workouts on Tuesday, September 30th and Wednesday, October 1st. The O’s will begin post season play on Thursday, October 2nd.
Showalter also reiterated that the Orioles are wary of being caught for the second seed in the playoffs by Detroit/Kansas City. While the O’s certainly would love to have the #1 seed if they could overtake Anaheim, it appears that the priorities for the franchise going forward will be getting guys some rest and ensuring that they don’t fall to the third seed.