So here we go. It all comes down to this for now.
LET’S DO IT.
I’ll be live-blogging the game inning by inning, so stay tuned for my ridiculous commentary here!
Top 1st: The Orioles manufactured a quick run – Nate McLouth got on base, stole second, and was driven in by J.J. Hardy. (In the meantime, I’m finding it very hard to root against Yu Darvish since he’s a pitcher that I’ve been watching since 2007.) Orioles 1, Rangers 0.
Bottom 1st: Joe Saunders can’t throw strikes. It led to Ian Kinsler walking, getting to third on an Elvis Andrus single, and scoring on a double play. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Top 2nd: Mark Reynolds was hit on the hand by a pitch with one out. He ended up stealing second base. Machado grounded out to end things, though, so no score. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Bottom 2nd: Despite his inability to throw strikes, Joe Saunders recorded two strikeouts in this inning. No, I don’t know either. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Top 3rd: Yu Darvish threw a 1-2-3 inning. I’d complain, but I find that I have an irrational inability to complain about Yu Darvish being on my television. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Bottom 3rd: A double play helped Saunders escape this inning relatively quickly. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Top 4th: Jim Thome singled down the left field line, but that’s about it. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Bottom 4th: Men on first and third with only one out. Saunders struck out Napoli and then induced a force out to second to escape. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Top 5th: Yeah, we’ve got nothing at this point. Orioles 1, Rangers 1.
Bottom 5th: Kinsler led the inning off with a single. However, Andrus hit into a double play with one out, which cleared things up. Saunders is pitching disturbingly well so far for someone who hasn’t been hitting the strike zone too consistently.
Top 6th: J.J. Hardy led the inning off with a single like Kinsler did last half-inning. However, Chris Davis decided to vary from what the Rangers did and singled into right field, advancing Hardy to third with no outs. And then magic happened – Adam Jones came through with a long sacrifice fly to score Hardy! Orioles 2, Rangers 1.
Bottom 6th: Did you realize Joe Saunders only walked one person tonight? After two outs, he handed the ball to former Ranger Darren O’Day. O’Day got the out. Phew! Orioles 2, Rangers 1.
Top 7th: Ryan Flaherty singled with one out. He immediately left the game for Robert Andino, Postseason Hero
at least if you’re a Rays fan, who came on as a pinch runner. Machado sacrificed Andino over to second and Yu Darvish left the game. This made my eyes very sad. Andino then stole third on a wild pitch to McLouth, the first pitch by Derek Holland, appearing in a relief role. McLouth proceeded to single to left, bringing in Andino! Holland, evidently stressed, tried a snap throw to first, but the ball got away and McLouth ended up on second. J.J. Hardy struck out, though, and the inning ended there. Orioles 3, Rangers 1.
Bottom 7th: Darren O’Day recorded three easy outs. Nothing spectacular to report here. Orioles 3, Rangers 1.
Top 8th: My boy Koji Uehara came in to pitch the 8th! I MISS YOU, KOJI. His first batter was the man he was traded for, Chris Davis, whom he promptly struck out. Actually, he struck out the entire side. I REALLY MISS YOU, KOJI. Orioles 3, Rangers 1.
Bottom 8th: Mark Reynolds started the inning off with a nice play to stab a ball at first. Kinsler ended up getting on with a bloop of a ball that got stuck in the grass and made it very difficult for J.J. Hardy to pick up. And then Darren O’Day decided it would be a great idea to throw the ball over to first, which he missed. Kinsler ended up on second. Amazingly, O’Day recovered and induced a groundout to short from Andrus, then was replaced by Brian Matusz. Matusz struck out Josh Hamilton on three pitches – THREE – to end the inning. Orioles 3, Rangers 1.
Top 9th: Joe Nathan came in to pitch the 9th for the Rangers. He walked Jim Thome to start things off, then struck Mark Reynolds out in an epic battle that lasted several pitches. Andino then just missed a home run, doubling off the left field wall and moving Thome to third. Lew Ford came in as a pinch runner for Thome. Manny Machado then slapped a blooper past short to drive Ford in (I swear that wasn’t a bad car joke) and move Andino to third. Chris Davis hit a sac fly to center to bring in Andino. The inning ended with J.J. Hardy grounding out to second. Orioles 5, Rangers 1.
Bottom 9th: One pitch, one out for Jim Johnson. Nelson Cruz then singled to left. Michael Young grounded out to second to advance Cruz, bringing up Mike Napoli with two outs. Johnson walked Napoli. A 19-year-old whose name didn’t even appear on the TV screen promptly singled, but David Murphy popped up to McLouth for the final out. Orioles 5, Rangers 1. FINAL.
Bring those Yankees on, baby!
(Unrelated footnote: I am now 2-for-2 so far in the postseason bracket I filled out for the annual competition at the school where my mom teaches. TAKE THAT, MOM’S CO-WORKERS.)