Nelson Cruz hits 40th homer in Baltimore Orioles’ win


As I said in yesterday’s column, MLB is a day-to-day league. In effect, what happened yesterday has no effect on today – and so forth. So the Baltimore Orioles were shut out on Monday night in the Bronx, and last night their bats came alive for 17 hits – including homers by Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. And perhaps the best news of the day was that yesterday was the first day of autumn; it sometimes becomes more difficult to hit the ball out of the ballpark as it gets colder. Obviously that didn’t bother the Birds last night.

Ubaldo Jimenez got his second start in as many weeks, and came away with his second victory (in that timeframe). Jimenez’s line: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K. Jimenez has certainly battled his share of demons in these two games, however he’s pulled through like a trooper. He’s also on line to start the season finale Sunday afternoon up in Toronto. So the question is whether or not Jimenez, based on his performance of late, might potentially be playing that day for a post season roster spot. That might have been unbelievable two weeks ago, but it’s a potential reality now.

One thing I forgot to mention above is that Kelly Johnson not only was a part of the Orioles’ home parade, he got it going – in the second inning. Later on in then inning Jimmy Paredes would get on base and come around to score on a Nick Markakis RBI-single. Speaking of Markakis, his aforementioned home run came in the fourth inning – following a Nick Hundley single. That broke the game open in a sense, as the Baltimore Orioles took a 4-0 lead. However NY would notch one in the last of the inning on Chris Young’s fielder’s choice-RBI on a groundout.

Courtesy of Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

But the Orioles came right back, as Nelson Cruz homered to lead off the fifth. An inning later Jimenez gave up a McCann single and walked Chase Headley to lead off the inning, prompting Buck Showalter to go to Brad Brach out of the Orioles’ pen. Stephen Drew would drive McCann in on a sac fly-RBI to bring NY to within 5-2. However with one on in the seventh, Andrew Miller gave up a rare home run (to McCann) which closed the lead to 5-4. However luckily for the Birds, the pen was solid for the rest of the night and Zach Britton recorded the save in the last of the ninth to close out a 5-4 victory in the Bronx.

The Orioles now stand at 94 wins, which is the most since the 1997 season when they won 98. Unfortunately for the Birds Anaheim also beat Oakland late last night, which means that the O’s are still 2.5 games back of them for the best record in the AL. The series in the Bronx continues today, with an odd mid-week day game. I suppose that in and of itself isn’t so odd, however the fact that it’s the third game of four (with the finale being tomorrow at night) makes it a bit bizzare.

Bud Norris will get the start this afternoon for the Orioles, with Sean Greene going for New York. Game time is set for just after 1 PM. The weather looks fairly threatening for Thursday night’s series finale, which is of course to be Derek Jeter’s final home game at Yankee Stadium. Let me be the first to say that it would be a travesty if that game is rained out. The fact is that Jeter deserves the long standing ovations he’s potentially going to receive that night, especially in his last at-bat. Per MLB rules, if the game is rained out it would only be made up (probably next Monday) if NY was still in the wild card race or if the Orioles were still in contention for the AL’s best record. Otherwise 2014 would stand as a 161-game season for both teams.