Baltimore Orioles reach the end of the line for 2016
The Baltimore Orioles fell 5-2 on a walkoff home run by Edwin Encarnacion in the AL Wild Card game, ending their 2016 campaign.
The Baltimore Orioles’ day is done in 2016 after falling 5-2 last night in the American League Wild Card game. The O’s battled the Toronto Blue Jays for eleven innings last night in what turned into an instant classic type of game, although most fans will only look at a game as such if you win. But make no mistake about the fact that regardless of the ending, this was an incredibly well-pitched game across the board.
Chris Tillman was fairly effective, although he didn’t last as long in the game as I thought he could have – which I found to be of more interest than how the bullpen was managed in the end of the game. Tillman’s line: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. Tillman’s curve ball was working well last night, and again my personal opinion was that he was pulle too early. However at this point that’s a mere footnote in the overall story of this game.
Tillman made one mistake in the game, and that was hanging a fastball for Jose Bautista in the second inning. That ball was smacked over the wall, and Toronto led 1-0. However the Orioles battled back in the fourth when Mark Trumbo’s two-run shot gave them a 2-1 lead. One inning later Ezequiel Carrera’s RBI-single tied the game…and we played on.
It’s worth noting that the RBI-single by Carrera only happened because Michael Saunders reached on a ball that was misplayed by Michael Bourn in the outfield. The ball was ruled a base hit, but that’s a ball that Bourn should and could have caught. And that shows you how much pressure fills these wild card games given the fact that one mistake here or there can lead to you being bounced from the playoffs.
And we played on…and on. The final 14 Oriole hitters were retired in order, spanning to the 11th inning. So while some folks are going to put this loss on Buck Showalter’s management of the bullpen, the lack of offense also didn’t help. However the good news was that whatever rallies Toronto was able to muster were thwarted – including a one-pitch ground ball double-play induced by Darren O’Day to end the last of the ninth.
Many folks started wondering at right about that time why Zach Britton wasn’t being used. And it’s a fair question. This is something that I’ll get into in the next few days on this column more in depth – because keep in mind that I kind of have some time on my hands to address it moving forward. However let me say this right now; I agree that it’s a shame for the Orioles to have gone down with Britton still in the bullpen. However what if Britton is used in the ninth inning and the Orioles take a lead later in extras, only to have the bullpen blow it? The same folks who are so outraged this morning are probably still outraged that Britton was “misused.”
So as we all know by now, Showalter summoned Ubaldo Jimenez into the game for the 11th. Again folks keep in mind that Jimenez had been the Orioles’ hottest pitcher going into September. Don’t forget that he was almost the starter for this game – which is why he was included on the roster. At the end of the day the fact that he gave up a walk off three-run homer to Encarnacion gives people some justification for complaining in a sense. But should it?
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That’s left up to the beholder, But that’s part of why I’m not addressing some of these issues regarding Showalter’s management of the bullpen – today. I suspect that folks are still too emotionally charged after last night. But those ideas will come. For that you have my word.
The game was also marred by a fan classlessly throwing a full beer can at Orioles’ left fielder Hyun-Soo Kim. As Kim circled under a pop up that was going to end the seventh inning, the can came flying out of the stands and fortunately landed to Kim’s left. To his credit, Kim didn’t lose focus and he made the play.
However that’s a black mark on the city of Toronto and for their fans. I recognize that these games are emotionally charged, and that to top it off it was a rivalry game. But there’s no justification for doing something as classless as that. Kim and Adam Jones started screaming and gesturing towards the crowd, and Buck Showalter spent the better part of five minutes talking to the umpires about the incident. Obviously it’s a footnote in an otherwise good game, but crowd control is important…looking at YOU, Toronto.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Tonight it's time for the O's to fly
So that’s it – the end of the line. Fans should be proud of the 2016 Orioles and what they accomplished. That might not sound so good to say right now, but in due course it will. But what it does is set the stage for what the Orioles hope will be a good 2017…and hope always springs eternal.