Baltimore Orioles: Finishing on a high note
Buck Showalter pulled a fast one on me yesterday. I thought for sure that the Baltimore Orioles would field their B or C-team in yesterday’s regular season finale. Instead, it was obvious that the Orioles’ skipper put some emphasis on ending the 162-game schedule on a high note. The O’s fielded what very well could be their lineup to open the playoffs on Thursday in Toronto yesterday. And the net result was their 96th win on the season, the avoidance of a sweep in Toronto, and heading into the post season on a high note.
Miguel Gonzalez was as on the ball as one could have hoped yesterday in a starting assignment. Gonzalez’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Gonzalez was pulled after five innings so as to give various bullpen relievers some work in the game. But I’ll get to that in a moment; in
Courtesy of Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
effect, the entire game can be summed up by saying that Jonathan Schoop homered in the fifth inning to give the O’s a 1-0 lead. And that one run stood up while the strength of the Oriole bullpen was on display in the middle and later innings. The Orioles went onto a 1-0 victory as a result of that lone home run.
Out of the five relievers that the Birds used over the closing four innings of the ballgame, they combined for one hit, zero runs, zero walks, and six strikeouts. The most noteworthy appearance to me was that of Ubaldo Jimenez, who pitched one inning and struck out the side. Jimenez has looked good in two starts in September and now one appearance in relief. Has he been able to perhaps play his way onto the playoff roster for the ALDS?
Another decision lies at third base, where Ryan Flaherty started yesterday afternoon. While he committed yet another error at the hot corner, his glove is probably the most sure out of anyone’s at that spot right now. So my personal opinion is that he’ll end up being the “everyday” third baseman for the Orioles throughout the post season. However nothing that Buck Showalter does should surprise any of us; he always has a trick up his sleeve in a sense. Could Alexi Casilla make the roster with third base in mind? Might the Orioles consider Jimmy Parades or Kelly Johnson?
Some of those guys will be on the roster, as they’ll get 25 players. And these decisions will manifest themselves between today and Thursday when the ALDS opens at Camden Yards. I was also surprised that the O’s played their starters as deep into the game as they did, given the fact that they were facing a knuckleballer in R.A. Dickey. However I suspect that Buck Showalter wanted to send a message both to the players and the fans that these games aren’t as meaningless as people might think. Finishing the regular season on a high note was important to the Orioles, and they went out and did it.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for a formal season recap you won’t be getting it – until ALL’s said and done! The Orioles returned home from Toronto last night, and Buck Showalter’s giving all players and personnel a full team day off today. The O’s will also work out and play simulated games at Camden Yards tomorrow and Wednesday, before opening the ALDS against the AL Central Division Champion Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park on Thursday. The times are still unannounced, but that’s expected later today or tomorrow.
Stay tuned to www.birdswatcher.com for all news and notes as they break. We’re still in “season mode,” and fans can expect the same level of coverage before and after post season games as we provide during the regular season. As for me, I will say that I’m looking forward to watching Monday Night Football tonight whereas I’ve normally been doing Orioles games…just a nice change of pace for one week!