Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Semifinals: Orioles (69) defeat Reds (09) in four games

Game One: 69 Orioles 3, 09 Reds 2
WP: Cuellar (3-1)
LP: Arroyo (2-2)
Save: Richert (3)
HR: Buford (2)

Game Two: 69 Orioles 9, 09 Reds 2
WP: McNally (5-0)
LP: Cueto (4-2)
HR: Buford (3), Johnson (2), B Robinson (4), J Hairston Jr. (1), Hendricks (1)

Game Three: 69 Orioles 3, 09 Reds 1
WP: Palmer (5-1)
LP: Harang (3-2)
Save: Richert (4)
HR: Buford (4), B Robinson (5)

Game Four: 69 Orioles 5, 09 Reds 3
WP: Hardin (2-0)
LP: Bailey (0-2)
Save: Richert (5)
HR: Powell (8), J Hairston Jr (2)

The unlikely run of the 2009 Reds hit a stout wall in the tournament semifinals as the 1969 Orioles allowed just eight runs in the four games while hitting eight home runs themselves.

Game One, played in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, was as close as the Reds got to a victory in the series, and that was very close indeed. A hit-and-run double by Brooks Robinson in the second inning gave Mike Cuellar the lead, and Don Buford's homer in the second inning made it 2-0. The two teams exchanged unearned runs in the seventh, and the Orioles pinch-hit for Cuellar in the process. Marcelino Lopez took the mound in the eighth and gave up a run before Dick Hall entered to get the final out of the inning. But in the top of the ninth, pinch hitter Chris Dickerson doubled and Dew Stubbs walked. Pete Richert entered and immediately threw a wild pitch to put the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. But pinch-hitter Alex Gonzalez popped up for the first out, and Joey Votto's line drive was snared by second baseman Davy Johnson, who then caught Stubbs off second for the final out.

The Orioles drew four walks in the first inning of Game Two off Johnny Cueto to take a quick lead. Jerry Hairston Jr. tied it with a two-run homer off Dave McNally in the top of the fourth, but Johnson hit a two-run bomb of his own to give the O's a fresh two-run lead. Brooks Robinson and Elrod Hendricks hit back-to-back homers in the fifth, and later in the inning Buford hit a two-run shot to make it 8-2.

Buford led off Game Three, in Cincinnati's Great American Park, with his third homer of the series. Brooks Robinson hit another homer in the second. The Orioles didn't score again off Aaron Harang until the eighth, but they didn't need to; Jim Palmer and Richert combined to allow just one hit, a fourth inning single by Brandon Phillips that set up the sole Cincy run, which scored on a double play.

The Orioles went with Jim Hardin for Game Four and staked him to a 2-0 lead before he took the mound. Buford walked off Homer Bailey and stole second before Frank Robinson walked. Both men moved up on a wild pitch. Boog Powell singled Buford home, and Brooks Robinson plated Frank Robinson with a deep fly. But Hardin struggled early himself; the first two batters singled, and he escaped the first on a triple play off the bat of Phillips. In the second inning, Jay Bruce singled and Hairston homered to even the score. The Reds took their first lead of the series in the third inning as Dickerson, Votto and Bruce singled. Hardin and Bailey threw scoreless ball after that into the eighth. Chico Salmon hit for Hardin and singled to lead off the frame. Bailey retired Buford but walked Johnson. With Dave May (who had replaced Frank Robinson for injury) and Powell due up, the Reds brought Arthur Rhodes. Merv Rettemund hit for May and fanned, but nobody hits for Powell, and the lefty slugger won the duel with the lefty specialist with a three-run homer and a 5-3 lead. Richert threw two scoreless innings of relief to wrap up the sweep.

Player of the series: With apologies to Buford (three homers) and Brooks Robinson (two homers and five RBIs), we'll go with Richert, who got out of that critical jam to end Game One and worked four scoreless innings for three saves overall.

Player availability: Frank Robinson will again be good to go for the final series. The Orioles pitchers will all be fully rested for the championship series.

Projected rotation: Cuellar-McNally-Palmer-???-(Cuellar)-(McNally)-(Palmer)

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