American League Wild Card Game
October 16, 2012Owensville High School
American League Wild Card Game
At the end of last season, some teams felt as if they had been robbed of spots in the postseason. After historic collapses in September, both the Red Sox and Braves both were denied of a trip to the postseason on the last day of the series. Both of the teams felt bad, and Major League Baseball seemed to have change in mind as well. The MLB wanted to attempt to recreate the magic of the 2011 season so they added an extra wildcard team for 2012 so that there would be another opportunity for a team to earn their position and make a run for a title after the added one game playoff.
Heading into the last week of the season, the Texas Rangers lead the American League West by three games. All season it seemed like the Rangers had the division in their grasps and that they would be the team to beat in the postseason; that was, if they made it there. The Oakland Athletics were on fire going into that last series and had their eyes on the divisional title rather than just a wild card spot, so they ended up sweeping the Rangers and locking up the title on the last day of the season. This would drop the Rangers back to the wild card, making them play their way into the postseason.
The Baltimore Orioles were looking to end their 15 year playoff drought, and although they could not catch the Yankees for the American League East title on the last day of the season, the Orioles had the second best record in the American League. Lead by Buck Showalter, the Orioles are having one of their most impressive seasons to date. With a roster comprised of farm-system talent and only a few big names, no one really expected much out of Baltimore due to their past futility. Adam Jones and his O’s had different plans, though.
Set for a matchup in Arlington, Texas, the Orioles would need a great start from their pitcher, Joe Saunders. Saunders was a mid-season acquisition from the Diamondbacks and would be forced to pitch the sudden-death game at a ballpark in which he had never won a game. He would answer this call by throwing five and two thirds innings, only allowing one run. Whenever Saunders exited the game, the Orioles led by a score of 2-1.
Baltimore would eventually score another run in the top of the seventh inning and would let the bullpen take control from that point forward. O’Day and Matusz would combine for a scoreless two and a third innings. It was the bottom of the ninth, and that could only mean one thing for the Orioles: Jim Johnson’s turn. Johnson led the American League with 51 saves this year, and Baltimore needed everyone of them, including this one. Johnson, although allowing three base runners in his inning, pitched out of the jam for another save, propelling the Orioles into their first postseason appearance in 15 years.
The O’s will have to take on the New York Yankees in their next series. This will be no easy task considering that they will have to face the best in the American League with the star power of the likes of Jeter, A-Rod, and Ichiro. Baltimore has shown that they can beat the Yankees, though, as they experienced them many times during the season. Either way, an interesting postseason matchup will take place in Baltimore and New York in an atmosphere that is not experienced in many other places.