With a week-and-a-half left in the 2012 regular season, the Orioles – who have the first wild card spot in hand for the time being – can ill-afford to lose games.
As we all know, the Toronto Blue Jays are playing out the string and are a last place team in the division; therefore, the Orioles need to beat them when possible.
The two teams split the doubleheader on Monday night, with the Orioles easily taking the first game, 4-1, thanks to the arm of Steve Johnson and the bullpen; in addition, Adam Jones had four hits and hit a homer to power Baltimore.
Speaking of Jones – he is definitely an MVP candidate. Will he win? No. Then again, in light of what Miguel Cabrera is doing for Detroit and Mike Trout for the Angels, Jones has definitely stepped up his game this year and is more than capable of carrying the Orioles for a stretch.
However, in the second game, the Orioles got lit up 9-5, as Wei-Yin Chen had a poor start and reliever Jake Arrieta poured fuel on the fire as he allowed the Jays to break open the game with a four-run seventh inning. Toronto catcher J.P. Arencbia torched Arrieta for a grand-slam homer in the decisive frame to sent Baltimore to their 66th loss of the season. The offense did come through for the Orioles in the second game; however, they blew multiple opportunities to blow the game open.
Ricky Romero – who won for Toronto – pitched a rather ugly game, and loaded the bases three times while on the mound. Baltimore loaded the bases again in the ninth; however, a double play and strikeout ended the game.
The Orioles needed to take advantage of the Jays’ mistakes and they didn’t. They cannot do that in October, or it will be a quick exit for them. The red-hot Yankees won again and now lead the division by a 1 ½ game.
They still hold the first wild card spot by 1 ½ a game over Oakland; however, with the Athletics, Angels and a resurgent Rays team still in the picture, the Orioles cannot lose games against teams they should beat.
Finally, I attended the doubleheader yesterday at Oriole Park and although the attendance for the day was north of 31,000 – it felt like a lot more. I got tickets in left field as part of the BUCKle promotion and had not sat out there in many, many years; however, it was cool sitting alongside some great fans and atmosphere far different than what I am used to. I can only imagine what the park will feel like when playoff baseball comes around.