The Baltimore Orioles lost four of its last six games played, including three straight losses over the weekend, ending their chances of eclipsing the Los Angeles Angels for the top seed in the American League and home field advantage throughout the upcoming AL playoffs. Baltimore split a four-game road series with the Yankees in New York, and then lost the first two games of a three-game road series with the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Orioles (95-66) will play their last game of the regular season in Toronto on Sunday, and take the No. 2 seed into the postseason, where they’ll face one of the winners of the wild card round, starting Oct. 2.
Sept. 22-25: Orioles Split Four-Game Series in Final Farewell to Jeter
Baltimore Orioles’ Ryan Flaherty, center, scores on a single by Nick Markakis as New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli takes the throw during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Looking on is home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Baltimore started the week off with a 5-0 loss to the Yankees on Sept. 22 in Game One of the four game Yankee series. Starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen uncharacteristically struggled, giving up four runs in six innings pitched, including three RBIs to Yankees legendary and soon-to-be retired shortstop Derek Jeter. The Orioles’ batters had an extremely difficult time hitting against Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda. Baltimore mustered up just one hit against Pineda—who had eight strikeouts through eight innings, and didn’t record one hit against New York’s bullpen.
But the Orioles hit the ball far better the following night in Game Two of the series, edging the Yankees, 5-4, on Sept. 23. Baltimore recorded 17 hits total as a team, including three home runs. Reserve third baseman Kelly Johnson, designated hitter Nelson Cruz and outfielder Nick Markakis each went the yard; they each had at least three hits, too, with Markakis leading the way with four. Ubaldo got the win as starting pitcher and closer Zack Britton picked up his 36th save of the season.
Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones hits an RBI-single during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Orioles won 9-5. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Baltimore officially eliminated New York’s chances of earning a wildcard seed on Sept. 24 with a 9-5 win in Game Three of the Yankees series. The Orioles stayed hot on offense, piling up six runs in the fourth inning alone to take full control of the game. Cruz led the team with four hits and a single RBI; the team had 15 hits total. Bud Norris picked up his 15th win of the season as starting pitcher and relief pitcher Darren O’Day got the save.
But Baltimore blew its shot at winning the series in Game Four and essentially lost its opportunity to overtake the top seed in the American League, thanks in large part to “El Capitan,” Jeter. The 20-year veteran Yankee was playing the last home game of his illustrious career and made sure he went out with a bang, recording two hits, three RBIs, including a walk-off single that gave the Yankees the 6-5 win. Jeter also hit a double on his very first at-bat of the game. Baltimore played well offensively – Markakis, centerfielder Adam Jones and first baseman Steve Pearce each hit home runs. But it wasn’t enough to ruin the storybook ending to Jeter’s career.
Sept. 26-27:Losing Skid Falls to Three Straight Losses in Toronto
Baltimore Orioles Adam Jones, right, is congratulated by Nelson Cruz after a solo home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014 in Toronto, (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)
Baltimore piled on two more losses during the first two games of its series with Toronto. The Orioles lost both games by the same score: 4-2. Chris Tillman, Baltimore’s best starting pitcher, was in a nasty funk in Game One on Sept. 26, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs in just six innings pitched. Two of the Orioles’ best batters, Cruz and Jones, didn’t play so the offense took a hit; Baltimore had just five hits total as a team.
Chen wasn’t much better as starting pitcher in Game Two on Saturday night, Sep. 27. He gave up three runs through six innings pitched. The offense was bad, again, recording just four hits total all game.