Game 161: Orioles 1, Rays 0

With wins by the Yankees and A's yesterday, the Orioles came into this game looking more like they'd need to go on the road for the Wild Card game. Some people were happy about Oakland's win, since it knocked the Rays out of the playoff picture – perhaps making them less motivated and allowing the O's a better chance to win (I think that was silly, and was cheering for the Rangers).

The Good:

* Miguel Gonzalez's final start of the 2012 regular season was one of his best; 6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. He'll end the year 9-4 with a 3.25 year. It's been a season that's more or less come out of nowhere, but the O's needed him to come up big in this game and he certainly did.

* Chris Davis hit a mammoth home run to center-field – 440 feet, I believe it was measured at. That tied him with Reggie Jackson for the club record with a homer in his 6th straight game. Davis was mediocre for most of the season, after a relatively hit start, but has been on fire over the last month. He's accumulated about 1.5 or so of his 2.1 fWAR on the season since the beginning of September, and has hit at close to a 200 wRC+ clip (which, you know, is pretty good).

The Bad:

* Pretty much nothing else on offense, as the clearly disinterested James Shields pitched one of the better games I've ever seen; 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 15 K. Hard to blame the O's batters too much, as Shields was just dealing.

The Final:

The O's the 1-0 win in the pitchers' duel, but with the Yankees' win (Raul Ibanez irritatingly hit a cheap game-tying home run in the 9th and then a walk-off bleeder through the infield in the 12th) and the A's win, the Birds remain a game back in the AL East and tied (but, with Oakland holding the tie-breaker, effectively a game back) in the Wild Card race. So Chris Tillman goes in game 162, with the hope that he can shut down the Rays and the O's can get a little help from Boston (to force a tie-breaking game for the division title) and Oakland (leaving Texas to come to Baltimore for the Wild Card game*). Pretty crazy that all 5 AL playoff teams are decided but there's still a lot riding on the last day of the season.

* Actually, both teams hold a tie-breaker over the O's but with the A's and Rangers currently being tied, an O's win against the Rays guarantees the Wild Card game being held in Baltimore, if they have to play in it.