“Oriole Magic” comes up just short against Yankees in ALDS

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Nobody gave the Orioles much of a chance in the one-game Wild Card playoff against the Rangers last Friday, so it’s not surprising that they entered the ALDS as the underdogs against the big bad Yankees. However, this series followed a very similar path to how their regular season played out. They surprised, they overachieved, they made the Yankees sweat. But ultimately, they fell a little short.

The Orioles lost to the Yankees 3-1 this evening in a decisive Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. They just couldn’t get much going against CC Sabathia, collecting just four hits while striking out eight times. They had their best chance in the eighth inning, but failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation.

Save for a rough ninth inning by closer Jim Johnson in Game 1, the pitching wasn’t the problem for the Orioles in this series. They allowed three runs or less in four out of the five games. None of their starting pitchers allowed more than two runs. But their bats didn’t show up. Aside from Nate McLouth, that is. It’s tough to win when you hit .187 as a team. To name some prominent examples, Adam Jones went 2-for-23 (.087) while Matt Wieters went 3-for-20 (.150) and Mark Reynolds went 3-for-19 (.158). One wonders how this series might have played out had Nick Markakis been healthy.

While the Orioles fell a little short in this series, it doesn’t diminish what they accomplished this season. Buck Showalter’s group managed to breathe life back into a fan base at a time where many long-suffering fans in the Baltimore/D.C. area were tempted to switch their allegiance to the Nationals. It’s unlikely that the Orioles will be able to repeat their historic success in one-run and extra-inning games next season, so if they are going to win again, they will probably need a new formula. But the franchise is alive and relevant again. And that’s a good thing for baseball.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: