In their first playoff appearance since 1997, the Baltimore Orioles traveled to Texas for a one-game playoff game with the two-time defending AL Champions, the Texas Rangers.
Joe Saunders took the ball for the birds, sporting a lifetime record and ERA against Texas that led sent shivers up the collective spine of Orioles Nation. For Texas, Yu Darvish took the hill. The Orioles had never faced the Rangers’ ace.
The Orioles got on the board first, in the first. Leadoff man Nate McLouth reached on an error, stole second, and scored on a JJ Hardy base hit. The birds had their first run in the playoffs before they’d gotten out in the playoffs.
The Rangers answered in the first, though, scoring on a double play ground out from Josh Hamilton. The game was tied at one in the first, and it looked like a game where the Orioles may have to outslug the hard hitting Rangers. This was certainly NOT the O’s gameplan going in. But both Saunders and Darvish settled down, and the 1-1 tie became a pitcher’s duel into the sixth.
JJ Hardy and Chris Davis opened the sixth with back-to-back hits. With runners on first and third, Adam Jones put an inside-out swing on a slider down and in, and lifted a sac fly to right. Hardy scored, and the O’s had a 2-1 lead.
In the seventh, Ryan Flaherty picked up a one-out hit. Pinch runner Robert Andino moved to second on Manny Machado’s sac bunt, and moved to third on a wild pitch from reliever Derek Holland. McLouth’s bloop single to left plated Andino for a 3-1 lead.
The birds picked up two huge insurance runs in the ninth, with Machado and McLouth delivering RBIs. Major League saves leader Jim Johnson got into a bases loaded jam in the ninth, but escaped unscathed, and the birds of Baltimore advance to take on the Yankees in the ALDS Sunday. Game one of the series gets underway Sunday at 6, with CC Sabathia pitching for New York. The Orioles have yet to announce their starter.
- BRING ON THE YANKEES!
- The O’s turned three double plays to support superb pitching from Saunders, Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, and Johnson.
- Two errors.