Baltimore Orioles vs. Detroit: ALDS in review


Longtime readers know how game previews and recaps work here on Birds Watcher. In fact, previews are hardly previews at all; I usually write game recaps with a snippet at the end about the next day’s game. But there was no game yesterday for the Baltimore Orioles – only today against Detroit, and onward. But seeing that it’s an exhibition game, I really don’t see much to preview other than saying that Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start this afternoon.

Instead, think back to the last time that the O’s saw Detroit. Given that they’re the Orioles’ opponent today and tomorrow, it seems like as good a time as any to recall last year’s ALDS. The Orioles of course took the first game in fairly undramatic fashion. However Delmon Young‘s bases-clearing double to give the Orioles the lead in the last of the eighth in game two was a moment for the ages in game two. That combined with Buck Showalter‘s confidence in Zach Britton (in game three) pretty much sum up the series for the Orioles.

Looking back on the Young play, it was a moment that one could feel building up for awhile. And perhaps that’s representative of how the city of Baltimore and the Orioles fans built up and waited for so long on a competitive team. It felt like one moment the O’s were all but resigned to heading to the Motor City with the series tied at one – and a the next they had taken the lead, and twenty minutes later the game was over.

In the last of the ninth of game three (an elimination game) Detroit had the tying run on base with one out. Closer Zach Britton appeared like he might be on the ropes for a split second, and then manager Buck Showalter emerged from the dugout. After confirming that Britton was okay, Showalter ordered a walk of the next hitter (putting the winning run on base). He then proceeded to tell Britton that he was going to induce a game-ending double-play, and that the O’s were then going to go home. And that’s exactly how it went down.

Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I said at the time that the Delmon Young play was the most dramatic thing I had ever seen happen in all of the games I’ve attended as a fan, or covered as a writer. And I stand by that comment now. It was the perfect combination of taking the lead in such a big moment and in such a big manner, and a city that had waited so long to be a part of such a moment. It was a festive atmosphere at the yard as it was that day given that the O’s had a 1-0 series lead and it was a day game on an early Friday afternoon – that moment put the icing on the cake for the fans in attendance.

And for the record, Showalter’s gutsy move at the end of game three really personified the entire 2014 season for the O’s. It was a moment when he not only played the matchups, but he also knew that Detroit manager Brad Ausmus had only a lefty hitter and an unproven rookie left on his bench. But most importantly, it was the now famous comment I like our guys put into action. He had confidence that Zach Britton would induce a ground ball in the infield, and he knew that the defense behind Britton was as sure as sure can be. And Showalter, the team, and the fans were all rewarded for that.

These are great memories for Orioles fans; the good news is that they can revisit these memories anytime they want. However today unofficially opens up a new chapter, and leaves all of that in the past. Keep in mind that the only thing we can say for sure is that Ubaldo Jimenez will get the start this afternoon. How many other “regulars” make the trip and/or play in the game remains to be seen. MLB requires road teams to bring at least three regular players to all road games (one of which presumably be Jimenez today) – and the same contraint will be on Detroit when they visit Sarasota for the Orioles’ home opener tomorrow…

…but that’s tomorrow’s game. First the O’s have to get through this afternoon’s game against Detroit. What was one of the motto’s last year? – One game at a time!