O's walk off with season-ending sweep
Baltimore capitalizes on two Jays errors in 11th to win
BALTIMORE -- Put a bow on it. The Orioles wrapped up their season with a 5-4 victory over Toronto in 11 innings on Sunday, a result that will give them a four-game winning streak heading into the winter. Baltimore won its final game on a pair of sacrifice bunts and a pair of throwing errors by Toronto pitcher Brandon League.
Michael Aubrey led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a clean single, and Lou Montanez tried to bunt him over to second base. League fielded the ball and threw wildly, though, allowing Montanez to reach first. Jeff Fiorentino followed with a bunt of his own, and League threw past first base to allow Aubrey to score.
"I thought for the most part this year we'll fight to the end and we'll play all 27 outs," said manager Dave Trembley. "Obviously, this is a nice way to end the season. The old clichés aside, I don't think it's something to build on. I just think it's a nice way for everybody to end the season. If anything, everybody should appreciate maybe a little bit more the opportunity they have to wear this uniform and be a Baltimore Oriole. That's the way I look at it."
The Blue Jays (75-87) hit three home runs off Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie, but all of them were of the solo variety. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and John McDonald all took Guthrie deep over the left-field fence. Toronto also notched a run in the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by rookies Randy Ruiz and Travis Snider.
Guthrie's season ended on a bittersweet note. The right-hander reached the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career, but he also tied Baltimore's franchise record for the most home runs (35) allowed in a single season. Guthrie, Baltimore's Opening Day starter, pitched into the eighth inning and left with a tie score.
"It was a goal of mine to go out there and attack the guys," he said. "I ran into some hot bats. They're swinging the bat really well, but we made some phenomenal catches, especially in a tough sky today with the sun being as it was. We pulled off a great victory. Bats came alive, we played good defense and it was nice."
Strangely enough, the victory capped off just Baltimore's second sweep at home all season. The Orioles swept Toronto all the way back in late May, and then they did it again in October to close out the season.
Toronto scored in the first inning Sunday, but Baltimore (64-98) answered immediately on a two-run blast by Nick Markakis. Justin Turner drilled a two-run single in the sixth to give the Orioles another temporary lead. Baltimore pushed two runners on base in the eighth and ninth, but wasn't able to push the go-ahead run home.
The Orioles hadn't won four consecutive games since mid-June, and their season-ending streak is made more interesting by the fact that they had lost 13 straight games right before it. Trembley characterized the season as one of learning, and he credited his players for finishing the year on a strong note.
"It was a year of opportunity for a lot of first-year players," he said. "I would say the guys I feel very strongly about -- that will play here for a long time -- showed a lot of improvement. They got better as the year went on. And those are the guys that need to continue to improve and get better and be a big part of this team. ... We got some young guys that pitched in the starting rotation and we hope they benefit from that experience. I think everybody understands very clearly what our needs are. And now we'll put our heads together and see if we can get it done."
Guthrie wasn't the only player to reach an individual milestone. Cleanup hitter Markakis homered in the first inning for his 18th home run, a shot that gave him more than 100 RBIs for the second time in his career.
"I think they both earned it. I think they both deserved it," said Trembley. "I told Guthrie in the dugout, for me, the record does not indicate what he did here. He took the ball, he works real hard, he gives you everything he's got when he's out there, and he competes. ... Markakis is a very unselfish, a very unassuming guy. He hits the home run and puts his head down and runs around the bases just like it's another day at the ballpark for him. You really can't tell too much about Nicky as far as emotions and ups and downs. He's just level all the time."
The Orioles also may have seen the last Baltimore appearance for third baseman Melvin Mora, whose contract contains a team option for next season. Baltimore is not expected to exercise that option, and Mora was given a brief standing ovation in between the sixth and seventh innings for his All-Star tenure.
"They appreciate what I did for the organization," said Mora, who came onto the field for a curtain call. "I didn't expect the ovation, but I guess the people know what I've done for the Orioles. I just thank the fans."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.