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!!!