Regardless of how the season has played out to this point, you have to tip your cap to the Baltimore Orioles. When lots of teams with less character and who weren’t as well coached might come off like they were playing out a string, the Birds gave New York all they had last night. And the fact is that New York couldn’t quite handle it. One might argue where was this team all year?, and that might be a fair point. But the O’s never give up – Never.
In his final start of 2015, the Birds got a great start out of Ubaldo Jimenez, who probably deserved to win the game. Jimenez’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 K. While he’s had his struggles this second half, Jimenez has also had his consistencies. And at the end of the day, he finished strong in his last few starts which one has to hope will act as a jumping board into spring training next year.
Nolan Reimold led the game off in the last of the first with his first ever lead off home run to give the Birds a 1-0 lead. Reimold has most definitely played a positive role on this Oriole team, and one has to wonder if it’s not an extended tryout for 2016’s squad. Another guy who might be looking for a roster spot next year is Steve Pearce, who added an RBI-double in that last of the first and the O’s took a 2-0 lead.
New York would cut that lead to 2-1 on a Gregorious sac fly-RBI in the second, however the O’s dodged a bullet as NY had the bases loaded. Jimenez did a couple of Houdini-like escapes last night, and that helped the O’s to victory. Manny
Courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Machado also reminded the world of his gaining power with a solo homer in the last of the third, and the O’s led 3-1. Machado has had a very strong season overall, but also an incredibly strong September.
However New York would tie the game at three in the fifth with an RBI-double by Heathcott, and a Beltran walk with the bases loaded. This appeared to be your classic situation in which New York finds a small opening and comes back on a team who thought they were beaten. But not against the Fighting Showalters. The Birds put runners at the corners in the last of the eighth, and a wild pitch with Machado at the plate scored a run, giving the Birds a 4-3 lead.
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New York would put a runner on base in the ninth on a base hit from ARod, however his pinch runner ended up getting picked off by Zach Britton. The O’s finished off New York 4-3, and by virtue of Houston winning they still haven’t clinched home field advantage in the wild card game. Incidentally the worst the Birds can now do is finished tied for third place in the division – so they’ll stay out of the cellar.
So that brings us to the penultimate day of the season. This Orioles team may well have fell just short of expectations. However we shouldn’t forget the good moments of this year either, and we’ll have plenty of time to go over that. This is the last time we’ll hear those magic words, PLAY BALL! ring out until next March. But that’s life, folks; it’s not perfect or fair, but that’s life.
The O’s will ironically finish the season in the same way they began it, with Chris Tillman on the mound. He’ll be opposed by New York’s Michael Pineda. Incidentally, the Orioles do have something for which to play today. A victory gives them an 81-81 record – their fourth-consecutive non-losing season…if they can win. All major league games today will begin at just after 3 PM eastern time (with the exception of one doubleheader).