AL Wildcard: Pitching to Encarnación is a dumb idea

With runners on the corners, and one out, Ubaldo Jimenz was asked to pitch to Edwin Encarnación. Instead of bringing in Zach Britton, or even walking Encarnación to load the bases, manager Buck Showalter let Jimenz pitch to one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.

There was a base empty — yes it was second base, but it was still empty — if the Orioles had walked Encarnación a force play would have been available at every base. Any ground ball in the infield should have led to an out and a chance at another inning double play. The decision to pitch to him is incredibly dumbfounding…especially without Britton on the mound.

After the game Showalter admitted that Britton was healthy and able to come into the game. Which means that he willing left (arguably) the best pitcher on either team out of the most important game of the season yet. It will be interesting to see how Showalter tries to spin that mind boggling decision in the days and weeks after this heart breaking loss.

Unfortunately for Showalter, the sequence of events in the bottom of the 11th is justification enough for Baltimore to terminate his contract. It was terrible decision making and it cost the Orioles the game.

Encarnación’s home run brought an end to an incredibly entertaining baseball game that had seen Baltimore escape its fair share of jams. Toronto grounded into three different double plays with runners in scoring positions throughout the game;  including the bottom of the ninth inning, when Russell Martin grounded into a 5-4-3 double play that put an end to the Blue Jay’s scoring threat.

Neither offense was really able to get going throughout the game as both pitcher staffs kept the opposing hitters out of their comfort zones. Toronto’s starting pitcher Marcus Stroman pitched six innings of four hit ball while only giving up two runs (a Mark Trumbo two run bomb). For Baltimore, Chris Tillman gave them a little over 4 innings of work and was pulled with runners on the corners.

Mychal Givens induced a 5-4-3 double play on only one pitch.

Now, Toronto gets to move into the ALDS and face the American League West champion Texas Rangers. While Baltimore gets to go home and should begin the process of hiring a new manager.

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Photo Credit: Vaughn Ridley-Getty Images