With sweep, O’s keep pace in AL wild card

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

The Ori­oles found new life this week­end at Cam­den Yards, re­viv­ing their post­sea­son hopes af­ter a sweep of the Ari­zona Diamondbacks to end their reg­u­lar-sea­son home sched­ule.

With the three in­ter­league wins, the Ori­oles re­asserted con­trol of their post­sea­son fate. They lead the Detroit Tigers by 11⁄ games for the sec­ond Amer­i­can League wild-card spot, and af­ter to­day’s day off, they head to Toronto for three games against the AL East ri­val Blue Jays, whomthey trail by11⁄ for the first wild-card berth.

The Ori­oles’ play­off pic­ture will be deter­mined in Toronto and New York, where they have an­other three-game se­ries against the Yan­kees. Whether the Ori­oles AL WILD CARD Toronto Ori­oles Detroit Seat­tle Hous­ton 86-69 85-71 83-72 82-73 82-74 +11⁄ — 11⁄ 21⁄ 3 will play be­yond next Sun­day ap­pears likely to come down to the sea­son’s fi­nal days.

Still, the Ori­oles (85-71) are in a much bet­ter place now, af­ter their 2-1 win Sun­day over the Diamondbacks, than they were

Thurs­day. The vis­it­ing Bos­ton Red Sox’s four-game sweep had all but ended any hopes of a di­vi­sion ti­tle; the Ori­oles were of­fi­cially elim­i­nated from con­tention Sun­day.

“It doesn’t take [the sting] away, be­cause that’s come and gone,” Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “It re­ally has. It left. You have to do that, and our guys do it. Just like, do the Red Sox fold the tent when we were beat­ing them early in the sea­son, some­time dur­ing the sea­son? That’s the for­ti­tude you’ve got to have. Our guys are war­riors. They grind through a lot of things. Work­ing on short sleep, game 150-what­ever. That’s a hard game to win to­day. It re­ally is.”

The sweep was the Ori­oles’ fifth in a home se­ries of three games or more this sea­son and their first since tak­ing three against the Cleve­land In­di­ans on July 22-24 shortly af­ter the Al­lS­tar break. But the wins over the Diamondbacks (64-91), a team in last place in the Na­tional League West and 27 games un­der .500, were less a great feat than a needed re­ver­sal of the Ori­oles’ sec­ond-half strug­gles.

“It was huge,” said closer Zach Brit­ton, who re­mained per­fect this sea­son by con­vert­ing his 46th save op­por­tu­nity. “I think it was good that we were able to turn the page.”

Seven of the Ori­oles’ 11 runs in the se­ries came by home run, in­clud­ing left fielder Hyun Soo Kim’s two-run shot in the sec­ond in­ning, which ac­counted for all their scor­ing Sun­day. The story of their ma­jor league-lead­ing 245 homers has been happy and bit­ter­sweet, but on Sun­day, one home run was enough to seal a win and the sweep.

“That home run was a great thing, and it’s amaz­ing that it hap­pened in the last game,” Kim said through in­ter­preter Danny Lee. “Over­all, the pitch­ing was tremen­dous and it brought us the win. I am just happy for the team to win.”

Right-han­der Dy­lan Bundy (10-6) be­came the first Ori­oles rookie to win 10 games since Wei-Yin Chen in 2012, hold­ing Ari­zona to one run over three hits while strik­ing out five bat­ters and walk­ing one. But the story of the game — and the se­ries — was the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the Ori­oles bullpen, which threw 101⁄ score­less in­nings over the three games, al­low­ing just four hits while strik­ing out 14 and walk­ing four.

Two days af­ter six Ori­oles re­liev­ers com­bined for six score­less in­nings in a 3-2, 12-in­ning walk-off win, the bullpen ac­counted for four more Sun­day. Over the 11-game home­s­tand, the Ori­oles bullpen had a 0.81 ERA.

Right-han­der My­chal Givens retired six of the seven bat­ters he faced in two score­less in­nings, strik­ing out four. Brad Brach over­came a one-out walk to pitch a score­less eighth, and Brit­ton threw a score­less ninth de­spite a two-out sin­gle by pinch hit­ter Kyle Jensen.

The Ori­oles fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son 50-31 at home, ty­ing the 2014 sea­son for their most home wins in 25 years at Cam­den Yards. The Ori­oles also re­ceived an at­ten­dance boon this week­end af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing show­ing

GAIL BUR­TON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Catcher Caleb Joseph and closer Zach Brit­ton cel­e­brate the Ori­oles’ third straight vic­tory over the Diamondbacks on Sun­day.

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