Baltimore Orioles: This is NOT the end


There are a lot of beat writers across the Fansided Network who are preparing to chart their final games this afternoon – not this one. We’ve now known for some time that the Baltimore Orioles would continue playing on after the final out in Toronto today, win or lose. And that, in and of itself, is pretty exciting for Orioles fans. If some of the tweets I got after yesterday’s 4-2 loss in Toronto are any indication however, lots of folks are worried going into the post season.

Wei-Yin Chen tossed a quality start and he put the team in a position to win; they just couldn’t get the job done. Chen’s line: 6IP, 5 H, 3 R (2 earned) 1 BB, 3 K. Not surprisingly, Chen was pulled with a fairly low pitch count – 79 to be exact. Buck Showalter is potentially using this last turn through the rotation as tune up games. Much in the tradition of NFL preseason, he wants guys to look sharp, get their work in, and get out. Chen did that yesterday, and he did it fairly effectively.

The Birds took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning when Delmon Young singled in Nelson Cruz following Cruz’s lead off triple. However Toronto took the lead an inning later. Former Oriole Steve Tolleson stroked an RBI-double to tie the score at one, and Jose Reyes’ RBI-double gave them a 2-1 lead. Reyes would later score in the last of the fifth – the product of separate errors by Alexi Casilla and Christian Walker at first base. Toronto would later add on another on a sac fly, and Adam Jones would knotch a solo homer for the Orioles in what

Courtesy of Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

ultimately turned out to be a losing effort as the O’s fell 4-2.

Alexi Casilla was added to the roster before the game and started at third base. As you can see, that didn’t stop the parade of errors that we’ve seen at the hot corner of late, which is something that obviously has Buck Showalter somewhat concerned (which is why Casilla was brought up). It’s unclear who will be playing third for the O’s come the post season, however my personal opinion is that Ryan Flaherty will get the nod. However his presence now also has to throw Casilla’s name into the mix.

Overall, I would advise Orioles fans not to worry – yet. I think it’s important first off to note that the O’s have used a different mix of guys in games for the most part since clinching the division. As time went on and they eventually clinched the number two spot in the American League, they further appeared to take their foot off the gas. Some people will argue that the act of taking one’s foot off the gas in a sense shows organizational weakness, and for all I know those people might be right. However if you think back to last September, the Orioles had a lot of tired bats in their mix. I think Buck Showalter is trying to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

The Orioles will send Miguel Gonzalez to the mound this afternoon in the regular season finale against Toronto. But again, I can’t stress enough that this is NOT the end for the Birds! Gonzalez will be opposed by Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, with game time being set for just after 1PM. So Baltimore fans can have their choice of the Ravens on TV and the O’s on the radio today, or of course vice-versa!

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see very few, if any, regulars in the game today. It’s often said that it can take up to a week for hitters to get their timing back after facing a knuckleball pitcher, and as we know Dickey is one of the best in the game. The last thing Buck Showalter wants to do is to expose his hitters to a knuckler with the playoffs in the very near future. We won’t know for sure until the lineups come along, however that’s just my take.

I’ll also be interested to see how Miguel Gonzalez and the bullpen are managed today. Showalter’s hinted at the fact that a lot of pitchers might see action in today’s game. I’m not sure if that means Gonzalez will be in for an inning and then someone else, but we’ll just have to wait and see. One thing is certain: today is NOT the end for the 2014 Orioles!