Not many people had faith in Joe Saunders today, myself included. But one man, Buck Showalter, did. And Saunders rewarded his faith, pitching 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Rangers tonight. Saunders was far from perfect, but he was good enough.
Yu Darvish, in his first appearance against the Orioles, was as advertised. He gave up an unearned run in the first thanks to an error by Michael Young, He also gave up one run each in the sixth and seventh innings, on singles and a sacrifice fly. But in between his stuff was just nasty, flummoxing Orioles hitters.
The Orioles added two insurance runs in the ninth inning against Joe Nathan, giving Jim Johnson a nice four-run cushion. He didn't end up needing the cushion, but it got dicey as he loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate. But David Murphy, who already hit a homer off of JJ this year, flew out to left field to end the game and seal the O's place in the American League Division Series.
So now the Orioles head home to play the Yankees. Game one will be Sunday night. The Baltimore Orioles, y'all.
Stay tuned for a full recap from the brilliant Paul Folk, where you can relive the glory and vote for tonight's Most Birdland Player. And head on over to the Friday night GIF Victory thread.