Buck Showalter Looks To Lead The Baltimore Orioles To A Winning Season in 2012...Let's Go O's!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

O's Season Comes To An End In NY

Ok...I've put this off long enough. The pain is gone. I've gotten over the Game 5 loss to New York. I've learned to appreciate the O's 2012 season for what it was...a complete success and something I'll remember for a very long time.

The Birds took the Yankees to a winner-take-all game in New York, but fell 3-1. CC Sabathia pitched a complete game, out-dueling Jason Hammel. There was a controversial call where Nate McLouth's monster home run was ruled foul even though it appeared to nick the foul pole in right field. The O's had the bases loaded in the eighth with just one out but couldn't deliver a clutch hit to tie the game or take the lead. Still, the season was amazing...I can't complain. What a ride.

 It helps that the Yankees were swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers. I can't help but think that the O's would have made the ALCS just a bit more entertaining...but who knows? The game is all about momentum, but New York looked flat after an emotional series with the Birds.

The 2012 Orioles exceeded everyone's expectations, except maybe their own. They were picked to finish last in the AL East. Many of the experts predicted them to lose 100+ games. The club flip-flopped their record from 2011, when they went 69-93. They finished 24 games over .500 and second in the division behind New York. The O's played six postseason games, winning three of them. They knocked-off the Texas rangers, the club that had gone to the World Series the past two seasons. They were one win away from advancing to the ALCS.

I'm proud. And I can't wait for next season...for the first time in a long time, I actually mean it when I say we'll get em' next year.

Thanks for the incredible season, O's.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hardy Lifts O's Over Yankees in 13th Inning

It took 13 innings, but the O's forced a Game 5 winner-take-all showdown in the Bronx after a thrilling 2-1 win on Thursday night.

Nate McLouth put the Birds on the board with a solo homer in the fifth inning, and continues to be the offensive spark of the club in this series. The Yankees tied it up in the sixth, and neither team scored again until J.J. Hardy's RBI double plated Manny Machado in the 13th.

Joe Saunders went 5 2/3 innings, allowing just a run on three hits and four walks. The 'pen was outstanding...Tommy Hunter, Luis Ayala and even Pedro Strop made scoreless appearances...Strop was credited with the win and Jim Johnson shut the door for his second save of the series.

So this is it...is there any magic left? The Birds and Yankees go at it Friday night for one last time this season. The winner will face the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. The loser will wonder what could have been...

O's Drop A Heartbreaker In Extras

The Birds were two outs away from taking Game 3 in the Bronx, but the Yankees tied it up in the ninth and won it 3-2 in the 12th.

Miguel Gonzalez was incredible, allowing just a run on five hits over seven innings, walking none and striking out eight. Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth  and it was up to Jim Johnson to close it out...Johnson got one quick out before giving up a game-tying homer to Raul Ibanez, who was pinch-hitting for a slumping A-Rod. Ibanez hit a lead-off walk-off homer against Brian Matusz in the 12th to give New York a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five series.

Offensively, the O's couldn't get much going...the only two runs scored came on solo homers from Ryan Flaherty and Manny Machado, who became the first rookies in the history of the game to hit their first homers in the same postseason game.

The O's now need to win on Thursday to force a Game 5, and will send Joe Saunders to the mound.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chen Leads O's Past Yankees To Even Series

Wei-Yin Chen was magnificent and the O's evened-up the series with the Yankees after a 3-2 victory on Monday night.

It was my wife and my first playoff game at Camden Yards, and it didn't disappoint. There were over 48,000 fans screaming and rocking the Yard, waving white "BUCK-le up" towels and cheering on their hometown team. I've never seen, or heard, anything like it before.

And the O's put on quite a show. Chen gave up just two runs (one earned) in 6 1/3 innings, throwing a career-high 112 pitches. He gave up eight hits and a walk while striking out three in his first postseason appearance. Darren O'Day and Brian Matusz were lights-out, and Jim Johnson redeemed himself with a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out A-Rod swinging to pick up the save.

The O's now head to Yankee Stadium for up to three games...the Birds have taken 2 of 3 each trip to New York during the regular season, and will need to do so again to advance to the ALCS. Miguel Gonzalez is slated to start Game 3 on Wednesday night...Let's Go O's!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Johnson Rocked As O's Fall To Yankees In Ninth

The Orioles, playing in the Postseason at Camden Yards for the first time since 1997, fell to the Yankees 7-2 in front of a wild sell-out crowd on Sunday night.

With the score knotted at two, Jim Johnson came on in the ninth and gave up a homer to the first batter he faced. Johnson hadn't surrendered a home run in four months before the fatal blast. And it didn't stop there...Johnson was tagged for five runs (four earned) in just 1/3 of an inning. There was a lot of second-guessing after the fact (I was a bit guilty myself), but the fact is that Buck Showalter put his best option out on the mound in the ninth. Johnson has been a beast all year and led the Majors with 51 saves during the regular season...he's the main reason the O's are in the playoffs to begin with.

The offense couldn't solve the Yankees' CC Sabathia, who held the Birds to two runs on eight hits in 8 2/3 innings. Jason Hammel pitched well in his return but lasted just 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks.

The O's are down 1-0 in the best-of-five series, and host the Yankees Monday night before heading to New York for the final three games (if needed). Wei-Yin Chen will take the mound, and my wife and I will be there to rock the Yard! Let's Go O's!!!

O's Top Texas, Will Face Yankees In ALDS

The Orioles went in to Texas and took care of business, defeating the Rangers 5-1 in the Wild Card playoff game and advancing to the American League Divisional Series against the Yankees.

In their first playoff game in 15 years, the Birds managed to outplay Texas, a team that had reached the World Series the past two seasons.

Joe Saunders was magnificent, allowing just a run on six hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and winning for the first time at Rangers Ballpark. Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz and Jim Johnson held Texas to just three hits over the final frames.

The Birds got on the board in the first inning thanks to an error, a stolen base and a single. Nate McLouth led the club with two RBIs, and J.J. Hardy went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.

The O's now move on to face their divisional rivals, the New York Yankees, in a best-of-five showdown. The first two games will be played at Camden Yards, with Jason Hammel expected to start Game 1 for the Birds.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Birds Fall To Rays, Fly To Texas To Face Rangers

The Orioles dropped the final game of the regular season, 4-1 to the Rays. Fear not, O's fans, the Birds are still in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, they just aren't assured of a home playoff game...yet.

The loss meant the Birds now fly to Texas to face the Rangers; had the O's won the Rangers would have come to Camden Yards...

The Rays pitching was insane for the third straight game...it was clear Tampa Bay was not mailing it in (like a certain Boston team that lost to the Yankees 14-2 and were outscored 28-7 in the three-game series). The Rays only allowed five runs over the series...the Birds gave up nine.

On Wednesday night, Chris Tillman didn't give up many hits (four) but three were solo homers. Tillman (9-3)  walked none and struck out five in the five-inning effort. Jake Arrieta served up a solo shot to Evan Longoria in sixth inning...Longoria's third homer of the game.

The O's were kept off the board until Adam Jones' sac fly in the ninth inning, and managed just two runs on five hits over the last two games. The Rays finished the year with 90 wins and the best ERA in the Majors. The O's flip-flopped their record from last year...in 2011 they were 69-93...they finished 2012 with a 93-69 record, 2nd in the East.

Here's hoping the Birds' bats come back to life Friday night in Arlington. Either Joe Saunders or Steve Johnson will take the mound. Whichever team wins will take on the Yankees on Sunday...Let's Go O's!!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Davis' Blast Powers O's Past Rays

In a game that featured only four combined hits, it was Chris Davis' solo homer in the fourth that led the O's to a 1-0 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

The Ray's James Shields struck out 15 O's, walked none and allowed only two hits, but Davis took advantage of Shields' one mistake and launched it 440 feet to give the Birds the lead. Davis has now homered in six straight games and now leads the club with 33 long balls this season (Adam Jones has 32).

Miguel Gonzalez was pretty good too, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings. Jim Johnson picked up his MLB-best 51st save.

The Yankees beat the Red Sox in 12 innings so the O's still trail New York by a game in the East. It all comes down to this, the final game of the regular season...Chris Tillman takes the mound for the Birds.

Birds Rally Late But Fall To Rays

It looked like the O's were going to pull out the old magic in the ninth inning Monday night, but it wasn't enough as the Birds fell to Tampa Bay 5-3 in St. Petersburg.

The Orioles went down 1-0 in the fourth before Matt Wieters' solo homer in the seventh knotted the game at a run a piece. A rare Manny Machado in the bottom of the frame led to three unearned runs, and Tampa scored again in the eighth to take a commanding 5-1 lead.

The ninth started off with some real promise...J.J. Hardy singled and wound up at 2nd base on a throwing error before Chris Davis launched his 32nd homer of the season to trim Tampa's lead to two. Adam Jones and Wieters both singled to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds struck out swinging before Endy Chavez grounded out to end the game.

Wei-Yin Chen (12-11) took the loss after allowing four runs (one earned) off six hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings, fanning four. Pedro Strop allowed a run on a hit and a walk in just 1/3 of an inning...his ERA stands at 2.45, which shows just how dominant he was in the first 3/4 of the season.

The Yankees crushed Boston 10-1, so the O's are now a game out of first place with just two games remaining. Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

O's Sweep Sox, Clinch Playoffs

The O's started things off right on Friday night and kept the momentum going in the three-game series against   Boston, sweeping the Sox and clinching a postseason berth for the first time since 1997.

Yup. You read that right...THE ORIOLES ARE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!!

My wife and I were lucky enough to be there for six of the seven games this homestand. The one game we missed was the opener against Boston Friday night. It was fireworks night at the Yard, and the Birds started the party early. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer in the first and Ryan Flaherty connected for his first career grand slam later that same inning to put the O's up 6-1 in a game they eventually won 9-1. Chris Tillman (9-2) allowed a run in the first but held Boston to just one hit and two walks over eight innings, fanning four.

Saturday's game featured Brooks Robinson's statue being unveiled and was a little closer. It was fitting that our third baseman of the future, Manny Machado, broke a 3-3 tie with a solo homer in the seventh inning. The Birds held on to win 4-3. Tommy Hunter (7-8) took the win and Jim Johnson picked up his 49th save of the season.

On Sunday afternoon, J.J. Hardy went deep on his bobblehead day. Nate McLouth and Chris Davis also homered in the 6-3 win. Joe Saunders (9-13) took the victory after allowing three runs on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings, walking none while striking out five. Jim Johnson picked up his 50th save, becoming just the 10th player in history to accomplish the feat. The Birds are a ridiculous 73-0 when leading after seven innings.

After the game, the O's stayed on the field and we all turned our attention to the jumbo-tron, where they were airing the end of the Angels-Rangers game. The Rangers were leading in the ninth, and if the Angels lost, the Birds were guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. It was a pretty special moment, but the Angels rallied for two runs in the ninth to spoil the party. I left strangely disappointed when you consider we had just swept Boston and were in a first place tie with the Yankees.

The Birds found out later that night that they had made the playoffs, after the Angels fell in Game 2 of their doubleheader against Texas. The O's now take on Tampa Bay to wrap up the regular season, while Boston heads to New York to take on the Yankees. No matter what happens, the Orioles are in the postseason for the first time in 15 years...Let's Go O's!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

O's Launch Seven Homers In Rout Of Jays

A day after being blanked by Toronto, the Birds whacked seven homers in a 12-2 win over the Blue Jays on  Wednesday night at Camden Yards.

Five Orioles went deep, as the club tied a franchise record with the seven dingers. Nate McLouth started things off with a solo homer in the first...Jim Thome, Manny Machado and Chris Davis all went deep in the fifth...Mark Reynolds went yard in the sixth, Davis struck again in the seventh and Machado added another bomb in the eighth.

Miguel Gonzalez held Toronto to just two runs on five hits and a walk over seven innings, striking out one. Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter each pitched a scoreless inning.

The Birds and Red Sox begin a three-game set over the weekend...Chris Tillman takes the mound.