06 October 2012

Wild Card Game: Orioles 5, Rangers 1

So here they are. The Orioles finally made the play-offs, and they had to travel to Texas to face a team that's beat up on them some this year. They used their best starters trying to win the AL East, leaving them with Joe Saunders as the only really option to take the mound. The same Joe Saunders who was 0-6 with a 9.38 ERA in his career at the Rangers' ballpark. And Texas had Yu Darvish (3.90 ERA, 5.1 fWAR) going for them. The odds were certainly against the O's, as they have been all year.

The Good:

  • Joe Saunders! I was hopping for Saunders to get through the line-up once, and then maybe stay in until he saw Josh Hamilton again. But Buck left him out there inning after inning - not even pulling him after he had retired Hamilton for a third time. And it worked! Sure he was helped out by three double plays, but if you had offered me a 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K line from Saunders, I would have taken it 100% of the time. It was definitely stressful to watch - especially when he came out with some shaky control - but Joe deserved every standing ovation O's fans were giving him from their living rooms.
  • Darren O'Day relieved Saunders after the lefty was allowed to retire Adrian Beltre (seemed crazy at the time, but hey, Buck Magic). O'Day did what he's done so often this year - and then some; 2 IP, 1 H (infield single), 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Credit to Andy MacPhail* for picking him up off wavers... from the Rangers.
  • Brian Matusz was asked to get out Josh Hamilton, and absolutely dominated him - three pitches, three strikes.
  • Jim Johnson made things a little too exciting in the 9th, but escaped a bases loaded situation to shut the door.
  • Orioles batters came through when it counted over and over again, with RBIs from JJ Hardy, Adam Jones, Nate McLouth, and Manny Machado. Nothing fancy, just some clutch hits.
* Thanks to commenter Greg for pointing out that O'Day was actually picked up in the window between when MacPhail left and Dan Duquette came aboard. So another thing to probably thank Buck for.

The Bad:
  • Generally speaking, the offense did very little against Darvish. Hard to really hold that against them too much though. 7 of the team's 8 hits were singles, and they only walked once compared to 12 K's. But hey, the O's beat James Shields and his 15 strike-outs this week too.
The Final:

Wow. Just amazing, amazing stuff. The O's are going to the "real" playoffs! Oriole Magic in full effect. We'll see how long it can continue, as the Birds face the Yankees, with whom they split the season series (though the did outscore New York 92-90). But they're playing with house money... and winning.


Greg said...

Have to double-check, but I think the O'Day waiver claim was made during the brief time between MacPhail's resignation and DD's hiring. So Klentak (or maybe Buck?) get's the credit for that one.

Daniel Moroz said...

Actually that's a good call - got my timelines mixed. Andy left in October, O'Day was picked up Nov. 2nd, Duquette came aboard Nov. 6th. So probably the credit goes to Buck on that one.

Philip said...

No one has mentioned that 3 of the Yankees defeats were games 4-7 of the season, and included the only extra inning losses of the season.
After those three losses, the Os went 9-6 against the Yankees.
And every aspect of the Os game has only gotten. Ether since then.
Play ball!

Jeremy Strain said...

Funny you mention that, I have a post coming in the morning about the Yankee series, and I did mention that a little bit. Good call Philip.