Orioles use long ball to drop Blue Jays
BALTIMORE — A winning season was never an objective for the Baltimore Orioles. Reaching the playoffs was all that mattered.
So, after the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-5 on Wednesday night to clinch a winning record for the second straight year, the players saw absolutely no reason to celebrate the moment.
“We didn’t make it to the playoffs. That was our goal,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said.
“I don’t know how much we look at it as, ’All right, we got a winning season. Hurrah, hooray.”’
The Orioles were eliminated from the wild-card hunt one night earlier, so manager Buck Showalter rested Adam Jones, Brian Roberts and Matt Wieters and moved Chris Davis from first base to designated hitter.
Jonathan Schoop, a 21-year-old prospect making his major league debut, homered, singled, walked and scored three runs.
Now that, Hardy contended, was exciting.
“I think that’s more important right now, seeing Schoopy go out there and do what he did,” Hardy said. “It’s pretty special, fun to be a part of.”
Perhaps that was the biggest benefit from playing a game that did not have playoff ramifications. With a lineup that included Jason Pridie, Schoop and Steve Clevenger, the Orioles ended a streak of 21 straight games of scoring five runs or fewer.
Schoop couldn’t contain his excitement, even after receiving two post-game pies to the face, an Orioles tradition.
“My major league debut, it was good,” he said. “It’s the first experience and I’m never going to forget.”
Ryan Flaherty hit a pair of two-run homers, Steve Pearce hit a solo shot and Davis doubled in a run to increase his RBI total to 137 — tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for the major league lead.
Flaherty connected in the third and eighth innings. It was his second career two-homer game, both of which came against Toronto this season.
And so, after a run of 14 straight losing seasons, Baltimore (82-76) is assured of having a winning record in successive years for the first time since 1996-97.