#1 Orioles Playoff Win At Camden Yards
Why It Should Win
Because this playoff win validated the Orioles crazy season in a lot of people’s eyes. Everybody waiting for the magic to run out didn’t have much left to say when the O’s evened the ALDS at one behind a sterling performance from one of the most underrated pitching staffs in baseball. Wei-Yin Chen recaptured his early season form and silenced the Yankee bats after an early Robinson Cano RBI double scored Ichiro.
Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds drove in a combined three runs, but the real hero in this game was Brian Matusz. He made the difficult transition from starter to middle reliever look easy by stranding two runners in a crucial 7th inning, and then slicing through the bottom of the Yankees lineup in the 8th to set the table for Jim Johnson.
Making the playoffs is one thing but as the record setting 2001 Seattle Mariners probably know, nobody remembers if you don’t cash in during October. After a month of unsuccessfully trying to KO New York from the top of the standings, this was the night Baltimore finally connected and turned the ALDS into a real fight.
#4 Manny Machado’s Pump Fake
Why It Should Win
If this tournament was based on how a play was called, this would be your number one seed. “Don’t throw it away, DON’T THROW IT AT ALL!” Thorne you rogue, you’ve done it again. But the play itself was awesome on so many levels, one of which in particular I think gets lost when talking about it.
This play came in a HUGE game for the Orioles. If Machado botches that play and the Rays win that game, Tampa Bay pulls within two games of Baltimore going into the third game of the series. With the O’s living on the razors edge all season long, sweeping Tampa at home was crucial to turn the AL East into a two horse race.
But getting back to the play, it was the best defensive play by an Oriole all season, and one that removed any trace of doubt about Machado manning the hot corner. Brett Lawrie actually made a copycat play a few days later, but the original deserves its credit as one of the best web gems all of last year. And definitely the smartest.
Voting is open from 8:00 AM on Monday March 4 to 8:00 AM Tuesday March 5.