With sweep, O’s keep pace in AL wild card
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
Catcher Caleb Joseph and closer Zach Britton celebrate the Orioles’ third straight victory over the Diamondbacks on Sunday.