An improbable run continued while an epic collapse ended when the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers 5-1 in the inaugural AL Wild Card Game. It was truly a fitting way for the Orioles season to continue and also equally fitting way for the Rangers season to end. If the outcome of this game was a surprise to anyone then obviously they had not been paying much attention to the world of Major League Baseball much in the past month or so.
Orioles starting pitcher Joe Saunders gave Baltimore 5.2 innings of solid pitching allowing just one earned run, six hits and one walk while striking out four hitters win the victory. Prior to the game Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter‘s decision to Saunders in this game was questioned by members of the media due to Saunders career record inside of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (0-6 prior to this win) but at this point in the season nothing that Showalter decides should be questioned, just look at their season and success.
Rangers starter Yu Darvish pitched exceptionally well also despite getting a kink in his neck during the fifth inning, surrendering just two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven batters and walking none. Darvish wasn’t the problem for Texas it was their slumbering offense that failed to provide him with any run support. The only run Texas scored scored came in the bottom of the first inning on a Josh Hamilton double play grounder that scored Ian Kinsler after that nothing at all.
Texas did make it slightly interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning loading the bases against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson with two outs but David Murphy flied out to Nate McLouth in left field to end the game and then the Orioles’ celebration began. All season long the O’s have had different members of the team step up for them and contribute into winning a game and in this one it was McClouth (2 RBI), shortstop J.J. Hardy (2 hits) and Saunders who were the heroes for them.
The celebration can’t last for long because up next for the Orioles is the team which they lost the AL East to by two games, the New York Yankees in the ALDS. The series will begin on Sunday at 6:00pm in Baltimore and it should be a great game and series. For the Rangers the search for answers now begins as to how they collapsed down the stretch run of the season and in this game not mention their best player Hamilton is set to become a free agent this off-season.