Baltimore Orioles miss opportunity, but stand at crossroads of destiny

The Baltimore Orioles missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot with last night’s loss in the Bronx. But they find themselves in good shape to do so today.

The Baltimore Orioles missed a golden opportunity to clinch a playoff spot yesterday, by virture of their 7-3 loss in New York. Later in the evening Detroit fell to Atlanta, meaning that the Orioles’ magic number to clinch was down to one. Obviously had the Birds managed to beat New York yesterday, they’d be in the postseason already. Instead they have to wait until today.

Wade Miley put forth a quality start for the Orioles yesterday, although he was left in for too long. Miley’s line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 9 K. Those nine strikeouts are impressive, and anytime your starter pulls a stat like that you’re going to have a shot to win.

The Orioles took the lead in the second on Michael Bourn’s two-RBI single in the second inning. Buck Showalter is really big on Bourn, and my understanding is that he’d like to see the Orioles sign him for next year. Given his speed, there shouldn’t be anyone out there who wouldn’t want to see the Orioles do that. One inning later it was 3-0 after Machado’s solo homer.

NY would put runs across in the fifth and sixth, and Showalter sent Miley back out in the seventh to pitch. That turned out to be a mistake, as in retrospect Miley was spent. However Showalter wanted to keep NY’s lefty hitters on the bench right where they were – it’s unfortunate that he had to be wrong in such a big spot for the season, but I would remind folks that more often than not the buttons pushed by Buck Showalter are going to be correct.

Before you knew anything, the game was tied on a Tyler Austin homer in the seventh – prompting a pitching change for the Orioles. New York would then put four runs across in the last of the eighth to go up 7-3, and giving them the win. As we often say, sometimes you just have to tip your cap. They never felt they were out of the game, and they kept fighting until the end.

So for the Orioles now it’s very simple; win and you’re in. That’s the easiest way for this to go down, needless to say. However regardless of what the Orioles do, a Detroit loss in Atlanta would also clinch a spot for the O’s. Here’s where it gets dicey…if the Birds fall today and Detroit wins, Detroit would be a half game out. They would then have to play their makeup game tomorrow at home against Cleveland. If they won that game, they’d go to the postseason and the Orioles could be out (depending on what Toronto does today as well).

But again all of that muck aside, if the Birds win this afternoon they’re in the postseason – end of story. They now also find themselves tied with Toronto for the top wild card spot, meaning that if the season ended today they’d head to Toronto for the AL wild card game. However while you’d rather play that game at home (and there’s still a shot that could happen), you’d take that as opposed to having to wait out a makeup game tomorrow.

So the destiny of the 2016 Baltimore Orioles is currently in their own hands. It’s been a long season with plenty of highs and lows. Anyone who’s followed along on this column to this point knows that. And with that said I want to thank each and everyone of you who have done so. You all know who you are, as do I. After coming this far, it would kind of be a shame to have it all come crashing down – you know?!

The aforementioned series finale is this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Kevin Gausman will get the start for the Orioles, and he’ll be opposed by New York’s Luis Cessa. All MLB games begin at 3 PM eastern time this afternoon – so it should be an interesting late afternoon/early evening.

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