In the timeless novel Around the World in 80 Days, author Jules Verne penned an unflappable character named Phileas Fogg.
If you need a guy to keep things calm when Armageddon rears its ugly head, Fogg is your man.
Applied to baseball, Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles are becoming major league baseball’s version of Fogg.
Friday’s 5-1 AL wild-card game victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington was case in point.
Texas is tough to play as it is. Fresh off two straight World Series appearances, the Rangers have star power to go with an awesome fanbase.
Offensively, Texas boasts a lineup that can mount a ton of runs in the time it takes to heat a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Add these two elements to an adrenaline-filled, playoff atmosphere and it can be very easy for a young club like Baltimore to succumb to the pressure.
But not the Orioles. Against the Rangers, Baltimore looked like someone forgot to tell this steadfast team they were in a do-or-die playoff.
Beginning with a big RBI single in the first inning by shortstop J.J. Hardy, the Orioles dispatched the Rangers to what will be a long offseason laced with question marks.
Led by Joe Saunders (5.2 innings/6 hits/1 earned run), Baltimore’s pitching staff teamed to contain the Rangers’ powerful lumber (and its rowdy home crowd in Arlington).
Darren O’Day pitched two critical innings in relief of Saunders, surrendering just one hit. Brian Matusz pitched 0.1 innings, getting slugger Josh Hamilton to strike out in the eighth inning.
Offensively, rookie Manny Machado delivered a clutch RBI single in the ninth inning to give Baltimore a 4-1 lead. Nate McLouth followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to put the game out of reach.
Closer Jim Johnson pitched the ninth in a non-save situation for the Orioles.
With the victory, the Orioles will travel home to Camden Yards to play another team that knows a thing about playing in the postseason—the New York Yankees.
The ALDS is sure to be an exciting series. This is especially true for Orioles fans, who have waited a long time for its team to return to glory.