Chandler Shepherd started the season finale at Fenway Park for the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon. The Birds were going with a bullpen game, however Shepherd went five innings. Shpeherd’s line: 5.0 IP, 3 R (2 earned) 1 BB, 6 K.
The Orioles took the lead in the third with RBI-singles by Hanser Alberto and Austin Hays, and a fielder’s choice-RBI by Trey Mancini. Even on the last day, they were still fighting. And they led 3-0.
However while I’m sure they were ready for the season to end as well, Boston wasn’t going quietly into the night. They put two across in the last of the third, and tied the game at three on Vasquez’s RBI-single in the sixth. One inning later Bogaerts’ RBI-single gave Boston a 4-3 lead.
But again, the Orioles fight until the end. Jonathan Villar, who played in all 162 games this year, smacked an RBI-single which tied the game at four in the eighth inning. But in the bottom of that inning it appeared that Boston was going to take the lead back. Bradley Jr. sent a towering fly ball to right field towards the corner of the Orioles’ visitors bullpen at Fenway Park…
…it was a home run. It was flat out a home run. Until it wasn’t. Until Stevie Wilkerson leapt at the wall, brought the ball back into the field of play, and spun around the wall and back onto his feet. He flat out robbed Bradley of a two-run homer.
However it would be and RBI-single by Devers in the last of the ninth that would walk Boston off as winners, ending the season for both teams. The Orioles finished the year at 54-108. As I’ve said however, that shows progress. Maybe seven games better than last year in the win column isn’t a heck of a lot of progress to some people. But it’s progress. And that’s what this season was supposed to be all about.
Going back to that Wilkerson catch for a moment, I can’t stress enough how amazing of a play it was. But it goes deeper than that. It symbolizes that this team never quit. It would have been easy enough to have let that ball go over the wall. The game probably would have been over earlier, and nobody would have thought Wilkerson or the O’s any worse for doing it.
But the fact that Wilkerson spent so much effort in making that play, in effect a play that was meaningless in the grand scheme of things, speaks to his character. And it speaks to the character of this organization, which obviously teaches it’s players to always play hard. And they typified that attitude until the last out on the last day, and until the end of the line. Up until the end.
Just for laughs…the Orioles’ next game will be Florida Grapefruit League Opening Day on Saturday, February 23, 2020 against Atlanta at CoolToday Park. Starters for both teams are still to be determined. (As soon as I’m able to get information about potential starters I’ll pass that along!) Game time is set for just after 1 PM.
And THAT, folks, is the end of the line!