Baltimore Orioles restore order to the universe for now

WIth their 2-1 victory over Arizona, the Baltimore Orioles swept their final series at home and re-took a game-and-a-half lead in the wild card race.

With their 2-1 victory over Arizona yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles gave themselves just a bit of breathing room in the wild card race. Not a heck of a lot of breathing room mind you, but a little. They’re now a game-and-a-half ahead of Detroit for the final wild card spot in the American League.

Dylan Bundy stuck around for five innings in yesterday’s game to qualify for the win. Bundy’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. The Orioles’ pitching staff has really worked in the manner it was meant to the past couple of games, with starters doing their thing and turning things over to the bullpen. That trend is going to need to continue big time this week if the Orioles are going to hold that spot in the playoff race.

Offensively all it took was a Hyun-Soo Kim two-run homer in the second inning. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt would smack an RBI-single in the fourth, but the Birds held on to win by the aforementioned score of 2-1. Again, that’s what a strong bullpen can do for you if you’re the Orioles. And that’s something that’s going to be needed as they go into this all-important final week of the season.

Today is the Orioles’ final off day of the regular season, and they’ll then head to Toronto for another most important series of the year. Detroit hosts AL Central Division Champion Cleveland this week, for what that’s worth. And that series begins tonight (whereas the Orioles are off).

Detroit’s elimination number sits at six, which also translates to that being the Orioles’ magic number – for now. That means that six Oriole wins or a combination of Oriole wins and Detroit losses which equal six clinches that playoff spot for the Birds. So if Detroit falls to Cleveland this evening, the number goes down to five. If they fall to Cleveland tomorrow and the Orioles beat Toronto, it goes down to three.

Speaking of Toronto, they hold a 1.5 game lead over the Orioles for the first wild card spot. So while the Birds are fighting for their lives to not have Detroit (or someone else for that matter) overtake them in the race, they also have a shot to overtake Toronto and leapfrog into the top wild card spot.

The American League wild card game is next Tuesday night. If you’re going to play an automatic game seven (automatic elimination game), you might as well play it at home. Rogers Centre has been a tough place for the Orioles, which of course gives some concern as to what happens this week as well. But you’d much rather play that wild card game knowing that you have your last at-bat in the game as opposed to playing it on the road – in front of a division rival’s fans who despise you.

I also want to send my deepest of condolences to the entire Miami Marlins organization on the untimely and tragic death of pitcher Jose Fernandez over the weekend. The fact is that there aren’t words that can describe what that organization and all who knew and loved him are having to go through. May he rest in peace.

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