The Orioles played their final home game of the 2019 season on Sunday in very un-2019 Orioles-like fashion. They had good starting pitching, a good relief effort, solid defense, and even a clutch home run hit by Chris Davis. No, don’t go check your calendar. It’s really still 2019. All of this was enough for the O’s to take down the Mariners in the series finale by a 2-1 score despite collecting just three hits all game.
When the lineup came out with Davis in it for this game, you had to wonder at least a little bit if this was going to be the last hurrah for Davis in Baltimore, that his getting a start against a lefty pitcher was really just manager Brandon Hyde doing home fans who want to cheer him for his past accomplishments.
When the GM is fielding pre-game questions from media about whether a guy signed for three more years will be on the team next year, things have gone wrong:
I have talked to him recently. I’ve talked to him through the year, talked to his representation. We’re gonna try different things. It’s a really frustrating situation. It’s one of the many things that we stepped into and have inherited and are working on. But he’s got a lot left on his contract, that’s the reality, and as I’ve said, I don’t take that lightly. So we’re going to keep working with him.
The fact that Davis homered dramatically off Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales to break a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning, which ultimately gave the Orioles the win, does not mean that he has solved all of his problems, just like the other 10 home runs that he hit this season and the 16 home runs he hit last season did not mean that he had solved his problems, whatever those problems are.
It just means that on Sunday afternoon, the people who showed up to Camden Yards, watched on television or listened on the radio, or even followed along a box score on their phones got to experience a nice Orioles win in a year when there haven’t been too many of those to go around. It’s probably not going to cost them the #2 draft pick in 2020. It’s always fun when the Orioles win, even if there’s nothing fun about having 51 wins with six games left to play. That’s still four more than last year, and counting.
If it wasn’t for an excellent John Means outing, the O’s would not have been in a position where Davis’s dinger could power them to a victory. After allowing a triple and run-scoring single to the first two batters he saw, Means went on to get through seven innings with just seven hits allowed overall. His defense made sure that the first inning was the only one where he had multiple men on base, picking up double plays in the third and fourth innings.
The Orioles never trailed at the end of a full inning since they managed to tie the game up in the bottom of the first. Austin Hays singled with one out, then scored when Renato Nunez hit a two-out double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. Yes, the Orioles had three hits all game and two of them were in the first inning. The third, as you know, was Davis’s go-ahead homer.
Means sticking it out through seven innings also gave him the chance to be the pitcher of record when Davis hit the go-ahead dinger, raising his season record to 11-11. We all know that a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t the best way to judge how good he’s been, but even so, I still find it remarkable that a starting pitcher on a 51-105 team can have a .500 record. He’ll have one more start this season. Maybe he can finish off 12-11.
Bullpen blundering has been a problem for a number of Orioles games this season, including in Saturday night’s game. So for Richard Bleier to come in relief of Means and just pitch two perfect innings to end the game with minimal drama, that was a nice plus as well. This was Bleier’s fourth save of the season. Like most of the O’s bullpen, he has been bad this year. Like Davis, a good game today doesn’t mean he’s fixed anything. He was good today, though, and that’s not nothing.
The O’s now hit the road for their final six games of the season, starting Monday night in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Neither team has anything to play for except for pride, though several players are surely playing in hopes of proving themselves worthy of roster spots next season. Perhaps some young Orioles other than Hays can take up the task of impressing the front office.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for September 22, 2019?
This poll is closed
Chris "Crush" Davis (go-ahead home run)
John Means (seven innings, one run allowed)