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The last Orioles game thread of the year: at Blue Jays, 3:07

The Orioles can win and end the Blue Jays season, or lose and contribute to possible AL tiebreaker chaos.

New York Mets v Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore’s own Bruce Zimmermann has a chance to get vengeance for an Orioles defeat that happened before he was even born.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

If things had played out just a little bit differently over the course of the 2021 season, today’s finale between the Orioles and Blue Jays might be completely meaningless. If the Yankees had been able to beat the Orioles the way the Rays did, the first wild card spot would be long since settled.

If the Red Sox had not stumbled against the Orioles in the season’s final week, the second wild card spot would be settled as well. The Jays, despite having hit the most home runs of any American League team, despite leading the AL in OPS, despite having four players collect 100 or more RBI and despite having five starting pitchers who are league average or better, would be coming into this day on the outside looking in.

Had the Orioles laid down and died for the Red Sox, the way it seemed like the Red Sox were hoping, they would come down to this final day with the #1 draft pick in next year’s draft already sealed. But none of those things happened. We are in the world we are in, and it is a world where a four-way tiebreaker scenario for two wild card spots is still in play.

Three-way tiebreakers are slightly more possible, and two teams having to play a Game 163 tomorrow requires only a loss from either the Yankees or Red Sox and a win from either the Blue Jays or Mariners. As for the Orioles and the #1 pick, they’re a game behind the Diamondbacks. Arizona would have to win and the Orioles would have to lose for the O’s to get #1.

The games today will be settled more or less simultaneously. The first pitch for Red Sox-Nationals and Rays-Nationals are each at 3:05. Orioles-Blue Jays goes at the peculiar 3:07. Mariners-Angels begins at 3:10 Eastern, as does Rockies-Diamondbacks. The fate of the two AL wild card spots will be split across four screens.

An Orioles win means the Blue Jays are out. Red Sox plus Yankees wins means both the Jays and Mariners are out. This is going to be fun for somebody.

Orioles lineup

  1. Cedric Mullins - CF
  2. Ryan Mountcastle - LF
  3. Austin Hays - RF
  4. Trey Mancini - DH
  5. Pedro Severino - C
  6. Kelvin Gutierrez - 3B
  7. Tyler Nevin - LF
  8. Pat Valaika - 2B
  9. Richie Martin - SS

Bruce Zimmermann, the Baltimore native, makes the final start of the year for the Orioles. In his 13 games to date, he has been just about league average. A just about league average start - let’s say six innings, three earned runs allowed - would be a fine thing for him to take into the offseason.

Blue Jays lineup

  1. George Springer - CF
  2. Marcus Semien - 2B
  3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 1B
  4. Bo Bichette - SS
  5. Teoscar Hernandez - LF
  6. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. - DH
  7. Santiago Espinal - 3B
  8. Danny Jansen - C
  9. Randal Grichuk - RF

Beware the Grichuk! Hyun Jin Ryu gets the start for the Blue Jays in this final scheduled regular season for them. I can’t say final game, because it may not be. Game 163, if played, still counts as part of the regluar season!

One other angle to this game, less immediately significant, is that these two teams will play their next scheduled regular season games against one another. The Orioles open at home against the Blue Jays on March 31, 2022. How different will the two lineups look by then? I am hoping for at least four spots of turnover in the O’s lineup.