Oct 4, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) celebrates with left fielder Steve Pearce (28) after scoring on a single by catcher Matt Wieters (not pictured) during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The Baltimore Orioles in game #162 of the season looked like the Orioles team that we expected to see finish 2015 with another American League East title and playoffs run. It had many of the elements we anticipated: Chris Tillman as the winning starter, Chris Davis hitting two homers, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy contributing in a big way with two hits each, Darren O’Day setting up Zach Britton to close the door, etc.
But this sort of story simply did not happen in enough games in 2015 for the O’s to repeat. As many times as we saw a good game, we would see the offense fall asleep or starters not go deep enough and dig a hole too large to come out of. Literally, it was a 50/50 experience, yielding a final record of 81-81.
But there was pleasure to be found in seeing the Orioles win their final five games and sweeping the accursed Yankees. Speaking of the NYY, they do not look like a team that is at all ready for the playoffs.
This 2015 Orioles season reminds me of a trip I took many years ago, long before GPS sorts of navigation systems. I was in the mountains of West Virginia and wanted to get to Interstate 81. I was sure my sense of direction would take me southeast to where I would eventually run into the highway. About two hours later I found myself driving back into the same town from which I had originally departed!
It was a strange journey for these Birds. The lineup on this final day did not look very much like that of opening day. Chris Tillman was the starter for each, and Manny Machado was at third base — playing every game of the season as the only MLB player to do such in 2015. Ryan Flaherty and Steve Pearce were in both lineups, but playing in different positions. Travis Snider, Alejandro De Aza, and Delmon Young were starters, and Tommy Hunter pitched in relief.
Along the way of the circuitous ride the Orioles have taken over these past six months, a total of 48 players made appearances: 26 position players and 22 pitchers.
Chris Davis put on a show in his final two at-bats, feared by many to be the last of his Baltimore career. Each was a classic Davis dinger: an opposite field fly that demonstrates his great strength, and a ball met in front of the plate and pulled high and deep onto the flag court.
Davis, between the 2013 and 2015 campaigns hit exactly 100 homers — 53 and 47 respectively. In his other three seasons with the O’s he hit a total of 61. That will be so difficult to replace, and really, the Orioles need to make every effort to keep him here.
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In any event, it was great to have an Orioles player win the home run crown for the third consecutive year. He entered the game only one ahead of Nelson Cruz. I looked into Seattle’s game with the A’s early on to see how Cruz was doing and noticed him missing from the lineup. A little research revealed that he was out with a groin injury that has been plaguing him. He did finish the season at .302, along with his 44 home runs. But can he do that three more years and justify the contract?
So now we begin a time of reviews, grades, postmortems, etc… to be followed by all the offseason news and analyses of what to do moving forward. I honestly like the offseason and its intrigue, but nothing beats a real baseball game. Frankly, it is already too cold and I’m looking forward to spring!
So stick with us throughout the offseason here at The Baltimore Wire. As you likely understand, we don’t break news, but we give early opinion and analysis upon it. So come check out your thoughts against ours.