A lasting image of the Orioles’ win last night: The look on Buck Showalter’s face as he watched his players celebrate on the field after the wild card win over Texas. That look should go under “proud” in the dictionary.
The pride on Showalter’s face could have spoken for every O’s fan at that moment. It was a night and win 15 years in the making.
Everywhere you looked, there were clutch performances. Nate McLouth drives in two and scores one. J.J. Hardy drove in the first run. An Adam Jones RBI put them ahead, something he did so many times this year. Manny Machado with a big insurance RBI. Robert Andino a big double.
Each pitcher came up big, none bigger than Joe Saunders. In the end, Saunders proved that it was not about how he did against Texas in 2009, but how he was doing for these Orioles now.
He held the majors’ top scoring team to one run. He got them to hit into three double plays, turning them away each time they started to get encouraged by a rally. Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz and Jim Johnson took it from there.
The Orioles took down the two-time defending league champions and now turn their attention to the Yankees. They came up short at the end of the year in their attempt to catch the Yankees. Now they go head-to-head for a berth in the ALCS.
The Orioles began this year by losing their first four games against New York. Since then, they are 9-5. They played six series against the Yankees this year, losing just one. They split 18 games, but they must be confident they can win this next five-game AL Division Series.
Because there should be no question in anyone’s mind that they surely can.
During the 18-game season series, the Orioles outscored the Yankees 92-90, out-hit them by average, .276 to .258, and out-homered them 30-24.
Some Orioles hit well this season vs. New York:
Matt Wieters: .375/4 HRs/9 RBIs
Mark Reynolds: .294/7 HRs/14 RBIs
Adam Jones: .300/3 HRs/7 RBIs
J.J. Hardy: .286/6 HRs/13 RBIs
No more one and done scenario for the club. Now it’s a best-of-five series, and the Orioles get to play in front of their home fans on Sunday and Monday.
This is no longer about any Orioles Magic. It’s just about a damn good team that continues to play good baseball. Maybe the sky is the limit for this club.