Encarnacion’s 3-run homer off Jimenez in 11th ends O’s season
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.
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.
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.
Ubaldo Jimenez, above, relieved Brian Duensing with one out in the 11th.