Calling the Pen: It's wild-card Sunday, and the Orioles are in the middle of it -

Calling the Pen

Calling the Pen: It’s wild-card Sunday, and the Orioles are in the middle of it

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Who would have guessed that the Baltimore Orioles would play a meaningful game on the last day of the season … the 52-109 Orioles. But Baltimore could have an effect on the outcome of an American League Wild-Card race that is coming down to the wire.

In a series of games starting just after 3 on a football Sunday, the Orioles will take center stage against the Toronto Blue Jays, who at 90-71 are a game behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, both of whom are 91-70, in the wild-card standings. The Seattle Mariners are also 90-71.

It also should be noted that the Tampa Bay Rays are 100-61, which means four of the five teams in the AL East have at least 90 wins. It shows how far the Orioles need to travel to become competitive in the best division in baseball but, like they did this past week when they won two of three against Boston, the Orioles could affect the playoff picture.

The Orioles pitched three rookie lefthanders against the Red Sox, starting with Bruce Zimmermann, who gets the start Sunday against the Blue Jays. Each of the three — Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells followed Zimmermann — gave up only one run in 15 combined innings. It got the attention of manager Brandon Hyde.

“We just threw three inexperienced left-handers against the Boston Red Sox, and they’re in a playoff race, and we won two out of three, and all three were really good starts,” Hyde said.

He would love to get another one today from Zimmermann against a Blue Jays team that scored 10 runs Saturday and is stacked with offensive talent.

On Friday night, after the Orioles scored four runs in the eighth in a 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays, outfielder Austin Hays acknowledged the excitement of the environment.

“It’s a really positive environment for us to play in,” Hays said. “The goal is for us in the next couple of years to be on the other side of this and be in the situation those guys over there are in right now. We’re trying to continue to play the game hard and play the game the right way and treat every game like it matters and just keep battling like we tried to battle our way back into that game tonight.”

Hyde also appreciated being in a playoff atmosphere.


“This is what it’s about,” Hyde said. ”Our guys haven’t had a whole lot of experiences in this type of environment. It’s loud in here. The fans are into it. We’re getting booed a little bit. This is what makes major league baseball fun, playing the games that matter in hostile environments on the road, playing against teams, must-win type of games. This is what competitors live for. It’s a lot of fun. I’m happy our guys got to experience it.”

The Orioles will get to experience it one more time before going into the offseason and watching their rivals in the AL East in the playoffs. They get to have a say on the final day, and you can’t ask for better than that, especially for a team that hopes its final games will have even more meaning in the future.



  1. CalsPals

    October 3, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Hopefully in the near future they will be playing meaningful games for their playoff future, they should be treating every game like it matters, if they’re being professional about it, many of those guys probably won’t (shouldn’t) be in major league uniforms next yr, the last month should’ve been auditions for their careers, as always, great job Jack…go O’s…

  2. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    October 3, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Not so sure about the “in middle of it” interpretation, involved, playing a role due scheduling, for sure, like totally! Well if BRR and CP are gonna go with Captain Obvious cracks on Rich, I will give out a “Major Hyperbole” or “Lt Colonel Exaggeration” honor…I for one assume the Orioles play hard every game and have conducted themselves in a fine, acceptable, if not maintaining grooming standards to meet the grumpy, manner throughout the season. I will conclude that I don’t like these new fangled metrics that rate my guy lower than dem other guys…counting stats to the exclusion of all udder stats please! tyvm!

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      FYI, Rich didn’t write this…lol…very typical…go O’s…

  3. Icterus fan

    October 3, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Look, it’s been a long hard season and you have to search for some optimism here, and creative ways to keep your players (and maybe yourself) motivated. I get that, but comparing being in post season contention to playing the spoiler role at the end of the season just aint the same.
    Yes, the Jays have every reason to play hard and with a vengeance in this pivotal game.
    To emphasize that the crowds are loud and booing seems weird to me. Water is wet…right?
    I don’t mean to be critical of Hyde. I really don’t. Maybe it’s my interpretation, but his statement about this last game and its intensity just came off oddly to me.

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      Totally agree, I think that’s part of the problem…go O’s…

  4. Buzz1979

    October 3, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    “In the middle of it”, but not pertaining to the Orioles side!

  5. dlgruber1

    October 3, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Off topic a little, but really not. It’s time MLB takes a look at revamping their playoffs. In the NL, either the Dodgers, with 105 wins, or the Giants, with 106 are gonna have to play the Cardinals, who I believe have now won 18 of their last 20 games, in a one game elimination. Meanwhile, Atlanta, with 87 wins will play the 95 win Brewers in the 1st round. I think a playoff system where the teams with the actual best records aren’t possibly playing each other, and I might add likely using their best pitcher which will make him unavailable more then once in the first round of the playoffs, would be the way to go. I know the O’s are a long way from being the Dodgers or Giants this year but if it happens that would be very frustrating.

  6. jimcarter

    October 3, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    The realistic role being played today by the Orioles is keeping Toronto under 20 runs. Merely showing up because the schedule dictates and equating that with “being in the middle” is the ultimate “spin”.

  7. Buzz1979

    October 3, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    The Chokington Nationals!

  8. AkronOhioOriole1

    October 3, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    #1 pick…glad we were good at something this year.

    • dlgruber1

      October 3, 2021 at 7:12 pm

      What were the D-Backs thinking winning their final 2 games?

    • CalsPals

      October 3, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      Professionals?….lol…go O’s…

    • dlgruber1

      October 3, 2021 at 8:52 pm

      CalsPals, just so you know I was being facetious. I oughta know that doesn’t translate well on a fan site.

    • CalsPals

      October 4, 2021 at 6:31 am

      Oh, I totally get it, you’re exactly right, I was too, doesn’t translate well, see lol…go O’s…

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