Ladies and Gentleman, the cardiac Orioles have done it again.
After a lackluster performance in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in the series opener, the Blue Jays had all of the momentum in their corner as they looked to land a devastating blow to the Orioles’ playoff hopes.
Instead, the Orioles flipped the script on one swing of the bat on Wednesday and followed it up with a convincing four-nil victory in the series finale to snatch the series away from the hosts.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s back it up for a second.
After Josh Donaldson’s two-run shot in the first inning Tuesday off of Kevin Gausman gave Toronto a 2-0 lead, they would remain in the driver’s seat for the entire game en route to a 5-1 victory despite the Orioles having several chances to get back within striking distance. The O’s finished the contest 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position…moving on now.
The song remained the same for the Orioles for much of Wednesday, as the Blue Jays held onto a 2-0 lead going into the eighth inning despite the Orioles having countless prime scoring chances.
Even after Mark Trumbo crushed his 46th home run of the season off of Jason Grilli to cut the Jays lead in half, it seemed as if this one was another game that slipped away…that is, until the ninth inning rolled around.
After a lengthy battle with Roberto Osuna, Kim finally got the better of the Blue Jays star closer by ripping a go-ahead two-run homer over the right field fence to give the Orioles the lead…and man, it.Was…epic. In what was arguably Buck Showalter’s best piece of tactical awareness this season, Kim comes through with the biggest win and the best moment of the Orioles 2016 season!?!? It doesn’t get any better than that!
Zach Britton would come on in the ninth to lock up the crucial 3-2 comeback victory and wasted no time in slamming the door shut, going three up, three down with two K’s. Book it to the O’s!
Then, Ubaldo Jimenez would turn in a diamond gem of a start in the Orioles 4-0 victory in the series finale on Thursday by shutting down the Jays to the tune of one hit over 6 2/3 shutout innings. Jimenez has been on a tear but quite some time now, but the Orioles shining veteran picked the perfect time to come through in the clutch and guide the O’s to their biggest win of the season. Cheers to you, Ubaldo!
After rallying to take the final two games and the series, the Orioles are now tied with the Blue Jays for the top wild card spot in the American League. Now, the final series of the season will decide on who hosts the one game play-off. That is unless one of these two teams fall victim to the late-season jitters and cough their spot up to the Tigers, who are just about the only team that still has a shot on the outside looking in.
Hang on folks; this roller coaster hasn’t hit its final twist just yet.
Let’s take a look at the highlights from Toronto:
– When the O’s have needed them the most, the starting pitchers have been nothing short of sensational over the past week. After finishing the series versus Toronto with a stellar 2.35 ERA over 18 1/3 innings, the O’s rotation now owns a sparkling 2.13 ERA over the last six games after allowing just 11 earned runs over their last 38 combined innings. More of the same please!
– What else can you say about the magnificent Ubaldo Jimenez? The Orioles white-hot veteran hurler now owns a 3-2 record along with a sparkling 2.45 ERA over his last seven starts. Along with Kevin Gausman, Jimenez has been a beacon force down the stretch for the Orioles, and it could be argued that without his second half contribution, the Orioles would be on the outside looking in. There, I said it.
– Another series, de nada for the Orioles bullpen in Toronto this week. The Orioles relievers ended the three-game set with 7 2/3 scoreless innings and now boast an incredible 0.70 ERA over the last 14 games. During that stretch, they’ve allowed just four runs over 51 2/3 innings while posting 50 strikeouts to 11 walks. Simply put, these guys are freaking amazing.
– While the offense still remains shaky, the Orioles sluggers managed to do just enough to bank two notches in the win column. Regardless, hitting .217 as a team while hitting a horrid .135 with runners in scoring position over the last 12 games leaves much to be desired. Here’s to hoping that they’re saving the power bats for New York City.
– Ladies and Gentleman, Hyun Soo Kim! The Orioles rookie is in red-hot form at the moment, and his confidence will be at an all-time high after hitting two game-winning homers in the last four games. Over his last three games, Kim is 4-for-7 with two homers and five RBI along with his electric pinch-hit game-winning homer on Wednesday. Can he stay in the line-up now?
– Two other players that are stepping up in the big time are Mark Trumbo, who is hitting .333 with three homers and four RBI over his last seven contests, and Matt Wieters, who is batting .364 during that same span with one home run and two RBI. Now, if some other guys started to follow their trend, that’d be great…
– After remaining a perfect 47-for-47 with his save on Wednesday, Zach Britton has now tied the Dodgers Kenley Jansen for the second-most saves in the league. Only the Mets Jeurys Familia has more with 50 saves on the season.
– After crushing his MLB-leading 46th homer of the season in Wednesday’s win, Trumbo remains four home runs ahead of Edwin Encarnacion (42) and Brian Dozier (42) for the 2016 HR crown. You can start etching his name into the record books now.
After their electrifying and massive series win in Toronto, the Orioles now control their own fate going into the series finale in New York City. With three games left on the schedule, you can’t ask for more than that. All that’s left to do now is two things;
Finish the job, and let the good times roll!