Baltimore Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez pitches Birds closer to top spot
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six plus innings of one-hit baseball as the Baltimore Orioles tied Toronto for the top wild card spot.
As maligned as Ubaldo Jimenez has been by Baltimore Orioles fans over time, you have to admit that he normally shows up when he’s needed most. I would point back to the 2014 AL East clincher against Toronto, where Jimenez started out of the bullpen and came up big for the Birds. He’s also had several big starts over the past couple of weeks, which brought him and the Orioles to last night…
,,,ironically against Toronto once again. Jimenez’s line: 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K. Anytime a pitcher goes as long as Jimenez went into that game and tosses a one-hitter, he’s really on his game. Jimenez certainly struggled for much of the 2016 season. However he’s what you’d call a big-game late-season pitcher. He steps it up when he needs to.
Some fans might justifiably point out that perhaps had Jimenez been on his game earlier the Orioles might not still be trying to wrap up a playoff spot at this point. But the point is that when he’s called in a big spot late in the year, Jimenez has proven that he shows up. And that’s a good guy to have on your team.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the third on Manny Machado’s sac fly-RBI. Michael Bourn grounded into a fielder’s choice-RBI an inning later, and the Birds led 2-0. RBI-singles by Kim and Wieters in the seventh and eighth innings closed out the scoring, and the Birds took a 4-0 victory into the clubhouse.
WIth the win, the Orioles are now tied with Toronto in the American League Wild Card standings. Whichever team finishes with the better win percentage will host the wild card game, which is scheduled for next Tuesday night. If the two teams finish tied, Toronto wins the tie-breaker. Toronto finishes their season in Boston, while the Orioles of course are down the pike in New York.
Notice that I said the wild card game is scheduled for Tuesday. In theory that could be up in the air if tie-breakers come into play. The Orioles’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three. However Detroit (who’s chasing the Birds) was rained out yesterday at home in their game against Cleveland. That game would in theory be made up on Monday if it’s needed.
If the Orioles can eliminate Detroit before then, that game will be irrelevant. However if Detroit is still within a half-game of overtaking or tying the Orioles, it would need to be made up. And that’s where it gets murky; if that game is made up on Monday and after the fact the Orioles (or Toronto for that matter) and Detroit are tied, then what happens? In that case they’d have to play a tie-breaker game, which in reality would be regular season game 163.
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So when does that happen? Obviously MLB has a nightmare scenario in that situation, because they’d probably need to reshuffle the schedule a bit. However my prediction is that it won’t be an issue. While Detroit is playing Atlanta this weekend, any combination of Orioles (or Toronto) wins and Detroit losses which equal three eliminates Detroit. So if the Birds take two-of-three in NYC and Detroit drops at least one game in Atlanta, that’s the end of it.
Obviously if the Orioles sweep the series in NY it would be over as well. So at this point I’m predicting the Orioles as a playoff team, but without the theatrics which a lot of folks are saying could happen. Here’s a good way to look at it; if the Orioles and Atlanta win tonight, then an Oriole or an Atlanta win tomorrow will put the Orioles in the playoffs.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Hyun-Soo Kim saved his best for last
The aforementioned penultimate series in New York begins tonight at Yankee Stadium. Yovani Gallardo gets the ball for the Orioles’ and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Michael Pineda. Game time is set for just after 7 PM – weather permitting. Oh, did I mention that the forecast in NY this weekend had it’s toils and snares?!