The Orioles wrapped up September very hot. Dangerously hot. Almost TOO hot. How hot is that? Too hot for flight. More on that in a moment, but first, let’s talk about your playoff-bound squad.
Yes, the Orioles clinched their first playoff appearance since 1997 Sunday, with some help. The Rangers split a double header with the Angels, which locked in the Orioles postseason berth. But first, the O’s did what they’ve been doing all season: they took care of their business.
Joe Saunders (W, 3-3/9-13) threw 7.1 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. He struck out five and walked none in shutting down the sorry Boston Red Sox, who have now dropped five straight games and nine of their last ten.
Saunders was helped immediately by his offense. Nate McLouth led off the bottom of the first with his 7th home run off Sox starter Zach Stewart (L, 1-4), and a 1-0 Orioles lead. JJ Hardy singled, Chris Davis singled, and Adam Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out.
Hardy scored when Matt Wieters hit into a double play, and Davis came in on a Jim Thome single for a 3-0 Orioles lead. Hardy then went deep into left in the third (22), and it was 4-0 birds. Another RBI from Thome made it 5-0. After Cody Ross homered, the Orioles came into the top of the fifth up 5-1. Up stepped the sizzling Davis. On a 2-1 changeup, Davis blasted his 31st home run…his fifth in four games…and it was 6-1.
Daniel Nava blasted a two-run shot in the seventh, closing the gap to 6-3. But Darren O’Day and Jim Johnson slammed the door from there, sealing the 6-3 win, the sweep of the Sox, and, eventually, the playoff invitation.
The Orioles are still involved in very big games, though. The Rays will host the Orioles for three games starting Monday. Tampa still has a very slim playoff chance, and while the O’s have clinched a playoff spot, they would LOVE to steal the AL East from the Yankees. Alex Cobb starts Monday for Tampa (10-9, 4.18) against Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen (12-10, 4.11), and game time is 7:10.
- PLAYOFFS? YES! PLAYOFFS!
- Numbers 1, 2, and 3 in the O’s order: a combined 6/10, scoring 5 of the 6 O’s runs, and driving in 3 with 3 solo homers.
- Thome: 2/4, 2RBI.
- A comeback win from the Yankees in Toronto keeps the O’s and Yanks tird for first.
- He Orioles charter jet had to make an emergency landing in Jacksonville, en route to Tampa Sunday after smoke was seen in the kitchen area of the cabin. You know you’re hot when you’re smoking up your cabin.