Baltimore Orioles come to the end of the line


The 2014 season officially ended for the Baltimore Orioles yesterday afternoon as they fell 2-1 in game four of the ALCS to Kansas City. The Orioles will now gracefully bow out and go home for the winter, while Kansas City will be the American League’s representative in the World Series.

This is something that’s probably tough for Orioles fans to stomach, however as

Buck Showalter

often says,

don’t judge someone by their worst day.

The Orioles got a heroic outing yesterday from Miguel Gonzalez, who did everything in his power to ensure that the Orioles had an opportunity to win this game. Gonzalez’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 earned), 3 BB, 6 H. At the time Gonzalez left the game, I saw a lot of tweets saying that Oriole starters hadn’t gone six innings throughout the entire post season. I would submit that’s a fairly misleading concept however. Most skippers manage post season games differently than they do in a normal regular season situation. It’s not uncommon for some of the best starters in the game to be yanked after four innings if need be.

However as was the case the entire series – and I literally mean the ENTIRE series – Kansas City scored on a fluke play. In a series full of bloop singles and soft liners, it was an error that did in the Birds on this day. With two runners in scoring position and one out in the last of the second, Eric Hosmer grounded into a fielder’s choice at first. Steve Pearce went to nail the runner at home plate, but catcher Caleb Joseph dropped the ball. In the process, the ball got kicked away from Joseph which allowed a second run to score and Kansas City led 2-0.

Courtesy of Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

While technically only one of those runs was unearned, neither of them should have scored. But those are the breaks that Kansas City got for the entire series. Heck, the first runner got on base as a result of another bloop hit. Not only that, but Alex Aoki (the second runner) reached base by getting hit by a Miguel Gonzalez pitch…which in effect grazed his jersey. So even their HBP’s were slight in nature – yet it was enough to win.

The Orioles did put up a fight however, with Ryan Flaherty responding with a solo homer in the third inning. But the O’s could never quite make it over the hump, although the pitching was sound for the remainder of the game. And that goes both ways, as Kansas City kept the Orioles off the board – with a few close calls of course. Alex Gordon has a running catch to rob J.J. Hardy of a double, and Nelson Cruz lined out to short in what could have been a sure base hit.

So as the last out was recorded and the celebration began in Kansas City, the Orioles retreated to their clubhouse knowing that their season was over. And that’s a difficult thing to accept for sure – both for fans and players. But Orioles fans should know that there’s no shame whatsoever in the accomplishments of the 2014 Baltimore Orioles. We should all keep in mind that there were brighter summer days this year than what we saw at the end. In layman’s terms, it simply wasn’t their year.

And whereas Showalter says not to judge someone by their worst moment, fans shouldn’t judge the 2014 O’s by their untimely close to the season. Let us not forget that the 2014 Orioles are in fact champions, and they always will be. Certainly not champions of the world as so many people had hoped. But champions of the American League East. That might well be a consolation prize, but it’s something. At the end of the day, my hope is that fans look back on this year with warm feelings and fond memories.

So what lies ahead? I’ll go through that a bit in tomorrow’s column, however needless to say this is the last time for awhile that I’ll use the Game Recap category! And I can even tell you when I’ll use it next – the 2015 Baltimore Orioles open Grapefruit League play on March 3, 2015 against Detroit in Bradenton, FL. Hope springs eternal, folks!