The Orioles’ 2016 season came to an end in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game, as the birds in orange fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 in 11 innings.
Toronto first basemen Edwin Encarnación hit the walk-off three run home run in the 11th inning off of Ubaldo Jimenez, who came into the game after Brian Duensing got the first out. Jimenez failed to retire a single Blue Jays batter, allowing Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson to single before Encarnación came to the plate.
The game had been tied 2-2 since the fifth inning. The Orioles had a 2-1 lead before Ezequiel Carrera hit an RBI single that brought Michael Saunders home. The Blue Jays got on the scoreboard first in the second inning, when José Bautista hit a solo home run to left field.
The Orioles were able to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Mark Trumbo, Major League Baseball’s home run leader, crushed a two-run home run to left field. The home run also enabled Adam Jones to score, who had gotten on base with a single. However, the Orioles were unable to record another hit after the sixth inning. The only other hitter that reached base was Chris Davis, who walked in the seventh inning.
Baltimore hitters struck out 12 times in the loss and tallied four hits in the 11 innings of play.
The Orioles used seven pitchers throughout the eleven innings. One of the pitchers that was not used was All-Star closer Zach Britton. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter received harsh criticism for not using his best pitcher, but the fact is that the game was tied and the Orioles’ offense showed no signs of heating up. The Orioles’ bullpen had the third best bullpen ERA in the majors this season, so Showalter had plenty of viable options to choose from. In the end, it came down to Jimenez, Dylan Bundy, or Britton, and Showalter elected go to to Jimenez before turning to Britton.
“[Britton] was fine,” Showalter said when asked about not using his closer. “I considered a lot of things. Our guys did a good job, we just could not finish it off. … Nobody has been pitching better for us (lately) than Ubaldo too. That’s the way we went and it did not work out.”
The Toronto Blue Jays advance to the American League Divisional round against the Texas Rangers. The first game of that series takes place Thursday at 4:00 p.m.