Clutch comeback by the Rangers last night. Down 1-0 in the top of the ninth, they rallied for two runs and returned home with the World Series deadlocked 1-1.
Both runs scored on sacrifice flies. It’s not the sexiest way to win a game, but it worked.
Great baserunning by the Rangers in the ninth. They were alert, and they were fearless.
The Orioles’ bullpen will be tweaked again this winter. I don’t know about a complete overhaul, but there will be changes. It’s the norm. And in Baltimore, it’s also the law.
I checked the 40-man roster again, and the Orioles can go in a variety of directions. A GPS wouldn’t make it any less confusing.
Just focusing on their in-house candidates, the Orioles could use Jim Johnson as their closer, set-up man or one-fifth of their rotation. Kevin Gregg could be their closer or a set-up man. Brad Bergesen and Jason Berken could be long and middle relievers, or starters at Triple-A Norfolk. Willie Eyre could be a reliever or non-tendered.
Chris Jakubauskas could be a long and middle reliever, part of Norfolk’s pitching staff or designated for assignment. Jo-Jo Reyes could be a long reliever, starter or non-tendered. Alfredo Simon could be a middle and late-inning reliever, starter or shown the door. Clay Rapada could be a lefty specialist or deemed a luxury.
Gregg will remain on this team, no matter how many fans want to run him out of town. The question is how manager Buck Showalter will use him. Does he report to Ed Smith Stadium as the closer, or is the job up for grabs? And is Johnson reaching for it - I think he should - or does it depend on whether the Orioles can add a starter or two over the winter?
Pedro Strop, who allowed one run in 12 appearances with the Orioles, would have to implode in spring training to lose his spot in the bullpen. And that’s quite possible. Showalter won’t be handing him a job. He’ll have to earn it.
Zach Phillips and Troy Patton are possibilities from the left side. Patton’s stock shot through the roof this summer. He was virtually ignored in spring training, but he earned Showalter’s respect.
Going back to Rapada, left-handers hit .104 against him this season, while right-handers hit .692. Lefties are batting .153 against Rapada lifetime, while right-handers are batting .359.
He’s the ultimate specialist and a tremendous weapon, but the starters need to pitch deeper into games if the Orioles are going to carry him. It didn’t work this summer.
The 40-man roster also includes Rick VandenHurk and left-hander Pedro Viola. VandenHurk is out of options and could be designated for assignment again. Same story as last spring. Viola most likely will take a seat in Norfolk’s bullpen.
The Orioles also will bring in a few relievers from outside the organization. I can’t promise you Koji Uehara because I don’t know whether the Rangers will try to trade him. They left him off the World Series roster. Maybe that’s a hint.
There’s always another Jeremy Accardo or Josh Rupe just waiting to be signed. Keep a pen handy.
Feel free to give me your seven-man bullpen, complete with roles, along with your opinion on where it ranks among the Orioles’ priorities this winter.