By: Jordan Cope, Sports Editor
More than a month has gone by since Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk-off home run off of Orioles starting/relief pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in the American League Wild Card game, and it still pains me to talk about it.
Major sports personalities have questioned Orioles manager Buck Showalter for bringing Jimenez out of the bullpen instead of All-Star closer Zach Britton, who was having a historic season.
Sports are always full of what-if scenarios, but the Orioles loss had more to do with the fact that Britton was not brought into the game.
Orioles starting pitcher Chris Tillman, who got the nod in the do-or-die ballgame, surrendered two runs over just 4.1 innings of work. That is an ERA of 4.15.
Tillman was the Orioles go-to starting pitcher all throughout the regular season, and he simply didn’t show up in his biggest start of the year.
Although Tillman pitched poorly in the game, what really killed the Orioles was the inability of their lineup to produce runs.
Baltimore mustered just two runs off of the bat of slugger Mark Trumbo, who hit a homerun in the fourth inning. Baltimore was held scoreless for the rest of the game and left six runners on base.
The Orioles relied on the long ball all year, and it came back to bite them in the playoffs when they couldn’t figure out how to manufacture runs.
From the dugout, Showalter saw that this was going to be a tight ballgame that came down to the wire, and he wanted to save his star closer to shut the Blue Jays down if his team took the lead.
For that reason, I don’t blame Showalter for not bringing in Britton. I blame the lack of starting pitching and mostly the team’s inability to manufacture runs.
In postseason baseball, starting pitching and pushing across runs is what it takes to be a World Series team.
Until the Orioles get the right pieces in place they will only be a good ballclub, not a great ballclub.