Ex­tra in­nings

En­car­na­cion’s 3-run homer off Jimenez in 11th ends O’s sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

Jose Bautista’s home run in the sec­ond was the first score, fol­lowed by a Mark Trumbo 2-run homer. Eze­quiel Car­rera’s sin­gle in the fifth tied the game. An11th-in­ning 3-run home run by Ed­win En­car­na­cion ended it.

TORONTO — It was al­most fit­ting that the Ori­oles’ post­sea­son path took them through the Toronto Blue Jays, an all-too-fa­mil­iar op­po­nent. But when the di­vi­sion ri­vals met for the 20th time this sea­son, much more was on the line.

The Ori­oles fought for 11 in­nings Tues­day night at Rogers Cen­tre, and man­ager Buck Showal­ter worked a chess match with his bullpen to get that far — al­beit with­out us­ing All-Star closer Zach Brit­ton — but the Ori­oles’ sea­son ul­ti­mately ended in a sud­den and cruel way.

Ed­win En­car­na­cion’s three-run homer to left field off Ubaldo Jimenez with one out in the 11th in­ning was the dag­ger that ended the Ori­oles sea­son with a 5-2 loss.

With one swing, En­car­na­cion sent the Ori­oles into the off­sea­son. Left fielder Nolan Reimold could only turn and watch the ball sail over his head as play­ers slowly walked off the field while the crowd went wild.

Be­fore the game, each man­ager echoed the same sen­ti­ment, that

there will be no se­crets be­tween these two teams. They know each other too well, have played each other too many times, and over the past few years have de­vel­oped a ri­valry that be­came so in­tense that ev­ery once in a while emo­tions boiled over.

There’s no love lost be­tween them, mainly be­cause they were fight­ing for the same thing: to bring base­ball cham­pi­onship glory to cities that haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced it for too long. But the Ori­oles and Blue Jays are more alike than ei­ther would prob­a­bly like to ac­knowl­edge, their suc­cess built on power and de­fense.

“I know our guys de­serve to get some­thing out of this sea­son, but so does Toronto, so do the other eight teams in it,” Showal­ter said be­fore the game. “That’s why it’s so fas­ci­nat­ing for peo­ple to watch be­cause you’ve got all these good things that meet, and some­one’s go­ing to go away. … It was a chal­lenge ev­ery time. I think there’s a real healthy re­spect with the two clubs about what we both had to do to get here.”

And the Blue Jays did, thanks to En­car­na­cion.

At home plate, a cel­e­bra­tion en­sued as the crowd chanted “Ed-die! Ed-die!”

Jimenez, the Ori­oles’ sev­enth pitcher of the night, al­lowed all three bat­ters he faced to reach base. The team’s sea­son ended with closer Zach Brit­ton, who was 47-for-47 in save op­por­tu­ni­ties, un­used.

The en­ergy — and the strat­egy — con­tained in the wild-card game is un­like any­thing else in base­ball, play­ing a 162game sched­ule to play in a do-or-die game to ad­vance to the di­vi­sion series. Be­cause of that, there was no play­ing for to­mor­row.

It was a chess match, and as a tie game went deeper, Showal­ter’s next move was warm­ing up be­yond the right-field fence in the Ori­oles bullpen.

That was ob­vi­ous through­out. Righthander Chris Till­man was pulled from the game in the fifth in­ning af­ter 74 pitches. Right-han­der My­chal Givens en­tered the game in the fifth in­ning — usu­ally a late-in­ning arm, he pitched the fifth just four times in 66 reg­u­lar-sea­son ap­pear­ances.

Not all of Showal­ter’s moves were con­ven­tional, but they worked out. He stuck with right-han­der Brad Brach for a sec­ond in­ning in the bot­tom of the ninth. Josh Don­ald­son opened the in­ning with a lead­off dou­ble down the left-field line, but Brach walked En­car­na­cion in­ten­tion­ally and struck out Jose Bautista. Showal­ter then turned to Dar­ren O’Day, who needed just one pitch to es­cape the in­ning, in­duc­ing an in­ning-end­ing 5-4-3 dou­ble play from Rus­sell Martin.

Play­ing in the first post­sea­son game of his seven-year ca­reer, des­ig­nated hit­ter Mark Trumbo launched a two-run homer over the left-field fence on the first pitch he saw from Mar­cus Stro­man in the fourth in­ning, ex­tend­ing the best reg­u­lar sea­son of his ca­reer — he led the ma­jors with 47 homers — to the post­sea­son.

Trumbo be­came the first Ori­oles player to homer in his post­sea­son de­but in nearly two decades. The last to do so was Geron­imo Ber­roa in 1997.

Trumbo’s blast gave the Ori­oles a 2-1 lead and si­lenced a deaf­en­ing sell­out crowd, part of a re­vived fan base that saw post­sea­son base­ball for the sec­ond straight year af­ter 22 years with­out.

Till­man could only watch as Ori­oles neme­sis Bautista’s tow­er­ing lead­off solo homer landed in the first deck of the left-field stands in the sec­ond in­ning. It was the only hit Till­man al­lowed in his first 41⁄ 3 in­nings. He re­tired 13 of the first 15 Toronto bat­ters he faced.

But af­ter al­low­ing three straight hits in the fifth to the bot­tom third of the or­der — in­clud­ing Eze­quiel Car­rera’s RBI sin­gle to tie the game at 2 — Till­man was re­moved from the game in fa­vor of Givens.

And Givens, who was also mak­ing his post­sea­son de­but, en­tered with run­ners at the cor­ners with one out, and needed just one pitch to es­cape, in­duc­ing an in­nin­gend­ing 5-4-3 dou­ble-play ball.

Toronto man­ager John Gib­bons’ pe­cu­liar de­ci­sion to stack the top of his lineup with six right-han­ders, es­pe­cially in a game in which matchups were in­evitable, played into the Ori­oles’ fa­vor as Givens (who has held right-han­ders to a .156 bat­ting av­er­age) pitched 12⁄3 per­fect re­lief in­nings on just 19 pitches.

Af­ter Showal­ter turned to left-han­der Don­nie Hart with two outs in the sev­enth, Melvin Up­ton hit a fly ball to deep left field that Hyun Soo Kim caught on the run, but not be­fore a beer can was thrown in his di­rec­tion from the stands above, prompt­ing cen­ter fielder Adam Jones to yell into the stands as Showal­ter trot­ted into left field to talk to the um­pires.

It wasn’t the first time an Ori­oles out­fielder was nearly struck by some­thing thrown from the left-field stands at Rogers Cen­tre. Dur­ing a reg­u­lar-sea­son game in 2013, a beer can was thrown be­hind Nate McLouth as he made a div­ing catch into the foul ground.

TOM SZCZERBOWSKI/GETTY IM­AGES

Blue Jays first base­man Ed­win En­car­na­cion cel­e­brates af­ter hit­ting a three-run walk-off home run to left field off re­lief pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who faced three bat­ters in the 11th in­ning with­out re­tir­ing any of them. The Ori­oles went ahead 2-1 in the top of the fourth on a two-run homer by Mark Trumbo, but Toronto tied the game in the bot­tom of the fifth.

FRANK GUNN/CANA­DIAN PRESS

Ori­oles starter Chris Till­man hands man­ager Buck Showal­ter the ball af­ter be­ing pulled in the fifth in­ning as Matt Wi­eters, left, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop look on. The Ori­oles used seven pitch­ers Tues­day night.

VAUGHN RI­D­LEY/GETTY IM­AGES

Ubaldo Jimenez, above, re­lieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th.

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