What is there to say? Should Showalter have used Britton? Probably. When? Probably when O’Day came in, when the Orioles desperately needed a double play to keep the game tied. (But O’Day got the double play ball anyway.) Barring that, you bring Britton in to start the 11th, I think, because Britton doesn’t give up home runs and you’ve got the home run guys coming up. But what difference does it make? The Orioles weren’t hitting, not off Liriano, not off anybody. Jimenez would have been come in to pitch the 12th or 13th anyway. The real mistake was pinch hitting Reimold for Kim. Why? Kim is the only guy on the team who gets on base. Maybe he walks and Machado comes up and you have an actual chance. Reimold is a bad defender, too; his misplay in the 11th, letting Devon Travis get to third, could have been decisive if Encarnacion had hit a single instead of a home run.
I said on Twitter it reminded me of the last game of the 1997 ALCS, but when I think it over, this one was a lot less heartbreaking. In that game, Mike Mussina delivered one of the best Orioles playoff starts of my lifetime, and we wasted it. Ten hits and five walks and we couldn’t push one run across.
And here’s the thing. That 1997 team was the best Orioles squad in 15 years, and you had the real sense it was a one-shot deal. The next year we were back to losing. The 2016 team is probably the third-best in the last five years, and the main contributors will all be back next year. It’s been a big adjustment, rooting for a team that’s consistently good, but my ability to absorb this loss makes me think it’s finally starting to sink in.