Must-Win Game Tonight For Baltimore vs. Toronto
After a heart-wrenching defeat in Boston on Sunday afternoon as the Sox salvaged one game against the Baltimore Orioles (88-66), the Birds returned home that night in preparation for their last home stand of the regular season.
Following their final West coast visit of the year, it’s expected for the Birds to be tired, and although the last-place Jays made their final stop at the Yards for a four-game set, they’ve always one of those teams the Orioles have struggled with, regardless of their record.
And, to top it all off, they were slated to play an old-school back-to-back doubleheader, not one of the more modern split day-night doubleheaders.
With the Birds trailing one game behind those Bronx Bombers in the AL East, yesterday’s twin bill was very important for the Orioles to sweep since there are only eight games left in the season, and nine for the Yankees since they played only one game yesterday.
However, after Adam Jones led the Birds to a 4-1 victory in the first game after he went 4-for-4 including his 32 nd home run, a two-run shot, the Jays quickly jumped out against Wei-Yin Chen and never looked back as they eventually won the game 9-5.
The Birds spoiled numerous chances in the second game to come back and win the game; they stranded the bases loaded on two separate occasions, and that’s when they were down by just a couple of runs. That’s not including Mark Reynolds bouncing into a heart-breaking double play with no outs and the bases loaded in their last at-bat.
Although that allowed one run to come to the plate, that officially killed the rally and the Birds dropped their second game in their last three after winning six in a row.
If the Birds want any shot at overthrowing the Yankees and clinching the AL East, they need to win basically every game from here on out. Now that might seem like a tough task, but that’s what needs to be done.
The Yankees are on fire. Robinson Cano is finally swinging the bat better, Alex Rodriguez contributes with his timely hitting and is always a threat with that short porch in right, and Curtis Granderson continues to post impressive home run totals year after year.
After posting three early runs against the Twins last night, the Bronx Bombers cruised to an easy 6-3 victory, as they picked up their 89 th win of the year and gained a half game over the Orioles.
Although their schedule is not tough over the remainder of the season, New York does not have another day off for the rest of the year, which should definitely help in the Birds’ favor.
They have two more games against the Twins, tonight and tomorrow, then they head to Toronto for four games and finish the year at home against the Red Sox from October 1 st to the 3 rd.
The Black and Orange have two more games against the Jays tonight and tomorrow and then have an off day Thursday; they open a three game-series to close out the regular season at the Yards against the Red Sox on Friday night before heading to Tampa on Monday for a final three-game series of the year against those rival Rays.
The Birds should be rested headed into this weekend’s very important set against the Sox, who they should have swept this past weekend. However, they finished with an impressive 7-2 record at Fenway.
There is nothing to complain about there.
However, the Birds need to focus on tonight and winning the next two games and close out the season in a strong fashion against those rivals from north of the border.
With yesterday’s victory, the Birds ensured a winning season against Toronto as they notched their 10 th win of the year. It would be great if the Birds could finish the year off with 12 wins against the Jays.
Since 2000, the Birds sport a 96-137 record against the Jays. Although they’ve played tough at Camden Yards going 54-61, Skydome and The Rogers Centre have not treated the Birds well. Over the last 12 seasons, the Birds are just 42-76 in Toronto.
The last time the Birds won the season series from the Jays from in 2004 when they won 11 of the 19 contests. Last year, the Orioles dropped 12 and picked up just six victories.
Tonight, Buck Showalter will send the southpaw Joe Saunders (2-2, 3.48 ERA) to the hill as he hopes to build on his last outing, which was his best since being acquired from the Diamondbacks in August.
The 31-year-old lefty match Seattle’s best Felix Hernandez pitch for pitch; he tossed eight strong innings and allowed just one earned run, but received the no-decision as Jones ended the game with a two-run blast in the top of the 11 th inning.
In his career against the Jays, the lefty sports a 3-4 record, but in 53.1 innings, he owns a 3.38 ERA. In his first start against them in an Orioles uniform on September 3 rd, he lasted 6.1 innings and scattered three base hits as the Birds cruised to a 4-0 victory.
The Jays will counter with a LHP of their own. Aaron Laffey (3-6, 4.80 ERA) has struggled as of late and the Birds hope to capitalize on his recent rough outings. Over his last eight games, including six starts, he sports an 0-4 record with an inflated 5.45 ERA.
In his last outing against the Yankees, issued five walks, tied for a career-high, and he surrendered four earned runs (five overall) as he lasted until the fourth inning (and was pulled without recording an out).
The lefty has pitched well in his career against the Orioles. Over 10.2 innings of work, he holds an impressive 1.69 ERA and a 1-0 mark. He last started against the Birds in 2009 when he was a member of the Indians; he tossed 5.2 innings and allowed just three runs.
Baltimore has been one of the best teams against left-handed pitchers this season. Entering Sunday’s game, the Birds were 25-15 and had the best winning percentage against southpaws in the league. However, they dropped last night’s game to LHP Ricky Romero.
For obvious reasons, the Orioles need to win both remaining games against the Jays. They need to finish strong, and continue to lead the way in the Wild Card. Oakland has tapered off a bit, and the Birds still lead the A’s by 1.5 games and the Angels by 2.0.
is aware where the Yankees are and who they are playing tonight. It’s not going to be easy, but the only way to keep pace with the Bronx Bombers is to continue to win because it doesn’t seem as if they are giving in anytime soon.
The Twins are sneaky and hopefully they can pull out a victory tonight. However, the Birds cannot rest their hopes in the hands of others. They need to win if they want to keep pace.
By: Alex Van Rees
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