After losing three out of their last four games, the Orioles needed a win in the worst way in game 156 of the season. With a Yankees win earlier in the afternoon, and the Rays, Angels along with the Athletics having won as well on Wednesday, another loss to Toronto would have added more angst to those in Birdland.
However, the Orioles got their swagger back as they went all-homer happy on the Toronto Blue Jays, snapping a two-game skid and defeating them, 12-2.
Baltimore tied a franchise record with seven homers, and both Manny Machado along with Chris Davis – who also had five runs driven in – each hit two. Nate McLouth, Jim Thome and Mark Reynolds all homered to join the party. Each one of the Orioles’ runs plated on Wednesday night came via a long ball.
They used a five-run fifth inning (after trailing 2-1), along with scoring two runs in each of their final three frames to march to their 89th win. Toronto’s pitching seemed to be serving up batting practice in the second half of the game and Baltimore sent their starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva – who gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings – to the showers early. Their bullpen didn’t do much better and the Orioles feasted on it.
Baltimore got a clutch performance from Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs in a very clutch performance on the mound.
As well, you have to be impressed by the job that Brian Matusz has done as a reliever. Although it looks like he has flamed out as a starter, in relief, he’s found a home and potentially has revived a baseball career that was once promising.
The Orioles are up only a ½ game up on the Athletics, and still trail the Yankees by a 1 ½ game in the American League East. With all the teams in the Wild Card chase and New York playing very hot right now, obviously Baltimore cannot afford to lose any more games.
They are still in the driver’s seat and control their own destiny; however, they have to beat Boston this weekend in their final regular season home series and root for Chicago to beat up on Tampa Bay. The race for the playoffs in the American League is so tight that it will probably head into the final day of the 2012 campaign.
The improbable could be very much possible for the Orioles, but they just need to keep rolling with so little time left in the season.