The Orioles will likely start Kyle Bradish in Game 1 of the ALDS this Saturday. Baltimore had nothing left to play for today, but the Birds still elected to pitch Bradish. O’s skipper Brandon Hyde said he wanted to keep their top starter in rhythm before the postseason.
Bradish only worked two innings, but he certainly looked prepared for the postseason. Alex Verdugo lined out to start the game, and Rafael Devers worked a one-out walk. Bradish followed with five consecutive strikeouts to conclude his abridged outing.
The 27-year-old fooled Justin Turner with an 0-2 changeup, and froze Masataka Yoshida with a ball that just caught the inside corner. Trevor Story, Wilyer Abreu and Bobby Dalbec all went down swinging in the second inning.
The game represented the best-case scenario for Bradish. He looked extremely sharp, remained healthy, and managed to stay on schedule before playoff baseball returns to Camden Yards this Saturday.
The rest of the team, well, they left a bit to be desired. Gunnar Henderson committed multiple errors, and the Orioles failed to record a hit until the sixth inning. Baltimore fell 6-1 in the final game of the regular season.
Still, after the final out of an uninspiring loss, Baltimore’s fans provided an extended applause. Players spilled out of the dugout and reciprocated the ovation back to an appreciative fan base. The result did not matter today. The Orioles, and their fans, are on to the postseason.
For the sake of the game story, we can rehash the details before sitting back and taking in the Wild Card round. Boston starter Tanner Houck kept Baltimore’s lineup guessing for the majority of the game. He struck out six, walked three, and did not allow a hit until Anthony Santander punched a two-out single to right field in the sixth.
The Orioles utilized seven relievers today with several expected to appear on the postseason roster. Danny Coulombe entered in the third and sandwiched a strikeout between a pair of singles.
Enamnuel Valdez and Verdugo attempted a double steal, and Jordan Westburg failed to corral the throw at third base. The ball trickled into left field, and both runners advanced an additional 90 feet. The play officially resulted in a throwing error for James McCann and 1-0 lead for Boston.
Baltimore brought the infield in, and Coulombe generated a ground ball from Verdugo, but Henderson booted the ball at short. Devers stole second, but Coulombe recorded the next two outs to keep the deficit at two.
Tyler Wells sent three Boston hitters down swinging in the fourth. Shintaro Fujinami pitched a scoreless fifth, and DL Hall recorded three strikeouts in the sixth inning.
Fujinami may find himself on the outside looking in, but both Hall and Wells are expected to play significant roles out of the bullpen. The duo matched Bradish with some big time strikeouts against talented hitters.
The bullpen kept the game close while the offense stumbled, but the wheels finally fell off in the seventh inning. Cíonel Pérez, another reliever expected to contribute, walked three of the first four batters he faced.
Baltimore brought the infield in once again, and Henderson committed his second error of the game. Henderson had shifted to third when Jorge Mateo entered the game, but he brought his bad luck along for the ride. Reese McGuire hit a weak ground ball the other way, and Henderson allowed the ball to travel under his glove as he prepared to make a throw home.
Boston followed with another double steal, and Trevor Story punched a single to right field. Hyde finally came for Pérez after Abreu drove in the sixth run of the game with a single to left.
Yennier Cano entered and struck out Bobby Dalbec to end the inning. Cole Irvin delivered a pair of scoreless innings to bring the regular season to a close.
Baltimore finally managed to scrape a run across in the bottom of the eighth. James McCann walked, advanced on a pass ball, and Adley Rutschman delivered an RBI-single to left field. Even during a meaningless Game 162, it felt slightly significant that the O’s dodged a shutout and the bad vibes that can accompany one.
The postseason bracket is now complete with the Orioles slotted to play the winner of Tampa Bay and Texas. The Astros clinched the AL West and a first-round bye with a win today.
The Orioles now have several days to rest up and mend any potential bumps and bruises. The O’s finished the regular season with the best record in the American League at 101-61.