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Start times announced for Orioles-Tigers ALDS Games 1-3 — sort of

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Start times announced for Orioles-Tigers ALDS Games 1-3 — sort of

Posted on 29 September 2014 by Luke Jones

After much frustration waiting for start times to be announced for the American League Division Series between the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers, fans received some clarity Monday evening.

However, they’ll need to wait for the results of the Wild Card Games to complete the picture for the first three games of the series.

Camden Yards will host Game 1 of the ALDS Thursday at 5:37 p.m. or 6:07 p.m., which does provide an adequate time frame on which to plan. The Orioles and Tigers will begin at 5:37 should Kansas City beat Oakland on Tuesday night, but an Athletics win would push the start to 6:07 on Thursday evening.

The parameters for Game 2 are more problematic as the Orioles and Tigers would begin at 12:07 p.m. Friday if San Francisco wins the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night. Should Pittsburgh prevail, Game 2 in Baltimore would begin at 3:07 on Friday afternoon.

Game 3 in Detroit is already locked into a 3:45 p.m. start on Sunday while times for Monday’s Game 4 and Wednesday’s Game 5 — which would be back at Camden Yards — have yet to be announced.

All ALDS games will be televised on TBS with Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Simpson on the call.

Major League Baseball also announced that Jeff Kellogg, Scott Barry, Dan Bellino, Fieldin Culbreth, Paul Schrieber, and Jim Wolf will be the umpiring crew for the Orioles-Tigers series.

Umpires CB Bucknor, Chris Conroy, Ed Hickox, and Brian O’Nora will serve in the replay center in New York during the Division Series.

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Orioles hoping hot corner doesn’t burn chances in October

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Orioles hoping hot corner doesn’t burn chances in October

Posted on 27 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles may not be sounding an alarm, but all you need to know about their concern at third base was signaled with the insertion of veteran Alexi Casilla at the hot corner in Saturday’s lineup against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yes, Casilla brings major league experience and manager Buck Showalter wanted to take a look at him after he was rehabbing a hamstring injury in Sarasota earlier this month, but how many games did the 30-year-old play at third base for Triple-A Norfolk this season you might ask?

None.

In fact, Casilla had made just two career starts at third and appeared at the hot corner just 10 times in his eight major league seasons before Saturday’s game at Rogers Centre. But it reflects the level of uncertainty the Orioles face at the position as Casilla became the fourth different player to start there since the announcement of Chris Davis’ 25-game suspension on Sept. 12.

The concerns at third base have been very real since 2013 Gold Glove winner Manny Machado went down with a season-ending knee injury on Aug. 11, but the Orioles appeared to find an acceptable solution in Chris Davis before the slugger’s 25-game suspension was announced on Sept. 12. Since then, Showalter has shuffled candidates with the results being mixed at best.

Though the Orioles have been playing out the relatively-meaningless regular-season string since clinching the division title on Sept. 16, they’ve committed five errors in their last eight games at third base entering Saturday.

The switch-hitting Jimmy Paredes has shown offensive promise with a .308 average in 54 plate appearances, but the 25-year-old has also displayed poor hands and an erratic arm, committing three errors in 13 games and looking shaky on a number of other plays at third base. Showalter has given Paredes the most extensive playing time at third, but his defense has often led to him being pulled in the late innings.

Veteran Kelly Johnson has shown decent hands, but his throwing arm hasn’t inspired confidence to throw out speedier runners at first base. The left-handed hitter also sports a .215 average in time split among the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Orioles this season.

Considered the strongest defensive option on the current roster, Ryan Flaherty has even shown recent struggles at the hot corner with two errors in his last four starts at third base this past week. And though he’s hitting over .300 in the month of September, Flaherty’s appearance at third creates another hole at the bottom of the order — he’s a career .222 hitter with a .654 career on-base plus slugging percentage — to go with rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop and one of Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley behind the plate.

It’s unlikely that Casilla makes the postseason roster, but the simple fact that he’s getting a look at third base speaks volumes about Showalter’s lack of confidence in any of the candidates at the position.

The Orioles knew they wouldn’t be able to find an option with the all-around ability of Machado when he was lost for the season, but they appeared to be able to live with Davis’ solid defensive play while knowing the offensive upside he brings despite his .196 average in the 2014 regular season. But his suspension lasting until the ninth game of the postseason leaves the Orioles flapping in the wind at third for at least the American League Division Series and some of the AL Championship Series before Davis is an option.

None of their current options provide enough upside with the bat to endure such shaky defense and only Flaherty — if you’re willing to overlook the recent shakiness — appears to provide steady-enough defense to Showalter’s liking. That’s what makes the 2012 Rule 5 selection the most palatable option over Paredes, Johnson, or the recently-summoned Casilla until Davis can potentially return.

Looking for an answer since Machado crumpled to the ground on Aug. 11 and then again when Davis was banned on Sept. 12, the Orioles have yet to find a solution with the Division Series beginning in less than a week.

While many look at the Orioles’ league-leading home run total and improved pitching numbers, defense remains the heart of their success over the last three seasons. Baltimore ranks third in the AL in team ERA but only 10th in strikeouts, a simple reflection of how hurlers pitch to contact and how important the defense has been. Entering Saturday, the Orioles were tied for first in fielding percentage and had committed the second-fewest number of errors in the AL.

In October when such a premium is placed on pitching and defense in typically low-scoring games, the Orioles defense will need to be at its best as they begin a journey to try to win their first World Series since 1983.

You just hope the uncertainty at the hot corner doesn’t burn their chances.

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Orioles select contract of veteran infielder Casilla

Posted on 27 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Saturday that they have selected the contract of infielder Alexi Casilla from Triple-A Norfolk.

Casilla, 30, batted .264/.315/.320 in 56 games for Triple-A Norfolk this season, stealing nine bases in 11 attempts while primarily playing second base (34 games) and shortstop (21 games). Casilla will wear #1.

To make room for Casilla on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet has been designated for assignment. Guilmet, 27, pitched to a 5.23 ERA (10.1IP, 6ER) in 10 appearances for the Orioles and went 4-2 with a 3.91 ERA (48.1IP, 21ER) in 40 games for Triple-A Norfolk this season.

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Orioles hosting nearly 1,400 at-risk children for ALDS Games 1 and 2

Posted on 26 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles are inviting at-risk children to attend Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series through a program called the OriolesREACH Knothole Gang. Nearly 1,400 children will be experiencing the excitement of Postseason baseball from Sections 96 and 98 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, courtesy of the Orioles.

Groups participating include:

· Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore

· City Springs Elementary School/Baltimore Curriculum Project

· Dundalk Youth Services Center

· Hampden Family Center

· Living Classrooms Foundation

· My Neighbors Foundation

· My Sister’s Circle

· The Salvation Army of Central Maryland

“Living Classrooms is honored to work together with the Orioles on behalf of the hundreds of inner-city children coming from our schools and programs that will have an amazing opportunity to experience the Postseason,” said JAMES PIPER BOND, President and CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation. “The Orioles are making a wonderful effort to involve the entire community in the Orioles’ playoffs. This will be an experience that these kids will always remember, and for many, it will be their first time at the ballpark to see the Orioles in action.”

Additionally, in an effort to raise funds for these non-profit groups, the Orioles are auctioning off several pairs of front row, field box tickets to ALDS Game 1 and ALDS Game 2. Fans are encouraged to visit www.orioles.com/auction until Tuesday, September 30 at 8:00 p.m. (for Game 1) and Wednesday, October 1 at 8:00 p.m. (for Game 2) to place their bids.

The OriolesREACH Knothole Gang pays homage to the International League Baltimore Orioles’ decision in 1930 to allow kids to see games at the old Oriole Park for free. The children were allowed in at no charge as part of a group dubbed the “Knothole Gang,” created when team management relented after years of children sneaking in (or “hooking in”) to the ballpark by tunneling under or climbing over the fence to watch games.

“The Orioles’ ownership wants children to experience the excitement of Postseason baseball live at Oriole Park at Camden Yards,” said GREG BADER, Orioles Vice President of Communications & Marketing. “We encourage our fans to bid generously on the tickets currently available at auction to help these remarkable non-profit groups doing great work in our community.”

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Orioles announce ALDS ticket options

Posted on 24 September 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

Deadline tonight for 2015 Season Plan deposit guaranteeing tickets for ALDS Game 1;

Public sale set for Monday offers no guarantee

The Orioles announced Wednesday two options for fans to purchase American League Division Series tickets, which will be available exclusively online. Fans are encouraged to visit www.orioles.com/postseason for a Postseason seating chart, schedule, and additional ticket information. Both options are for fans to purchase only American League Division Series tickets (ALCS and World Series tickets will be made available for sale at a later date, as necessary).

Option 1 – Guaranteed ALDS tickets

Fans are guaranteed the opportunity to purchase Postseason tickets by placing a minimum $250 per seat deposit on a 2015 Full or Partial Season Ticket Plan, including the popular and convenient 13-game plan. Fans who place a deposit by midnight tonight will be guaranteed the chance to buy Game 1 of the American League Division Series, and other future Postseason games, via an exclusive online-only pre-sale on Thursday, September 25 at 10 a.m. Beginning Thursday, 2015 deposits will no longer guarantee fans an opportunity to participate in the ALDS pre-sale.

Option 2 – No Guarantee

A public sale for American League Division Series tickets will take place on Monday, September 29 at 10:00 a.m. exclusively online at www.orioles.com/postseason. Ticket availability is expected to be extremely limited, and tickets – which will be primarily scattered single seats, limited view seating, and standing room only – will sell out quickly. A maximum of six tickets per ALDS game may be purchased.

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Tillman officially named Game 1 starter of ALDS

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Tillman officially named Game 1 starter of ALDS

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

In what was hardly a surprise considering his status as the staff ace, Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman has been named Game 1 starter of the American League Division Series that will begin next week.

Manager Buck Showalter confirmed the news with reporters in New York prior to Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, but he had hinted last weekend that Tillman would pitch the series opener when he indicated the right-hander would pitch on an extra day of rest in each of his next two starts, pushing him to Oct. 2 when the ALDS is scheduled to begin.

Tillman has eclipsed the 200-inning mark for the second straight year and currently owns a streak of 20 consecutive starts in which he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs, tied with Steve Barber for the second-longest streak in franchise history. The 26-year-old is 13-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 33 starts this season and will be making his postseason debut after he did not appear in the 2012 playoffs.

Showalter will wait to name the rest of his starting rotation until the Orioles’ ALDS opponent is determined. Baltimore is currently slated to play the Detroit Tigers as they held a one-game lead over the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central entering Tuesday. However, the Orioles are still pursuing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage as they trail the Los Angeles Angels by 2 1/2 games going into Tuesday.

The order has yet to be determined, but most expect Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris to make up the rest of the ALDS rotation with Kevin Gausman moving to a relief role.

 

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Orioles announce 2015 Grapefruit League schedule

Posted on 23 September 2014 by WNST Staff

The Orioles announced Tuesday their 2015 Grapefruit League schedule, which opens Tuesday, March 3 with a 1:05 p.m. game in Lakeland against the Detroit Tigers. The Orioles will open their home schedule the next day, with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Tigers on Wednesday, March 4. The 2015 season will mark the sixth consecutive Spring Training for the Orioles in Sarasota, and the fifth in the renovated Ed Smith Stadium.

Baltimore will face 10 different opponents during their 16-game home Grapefruit League campaign. The O’s will host the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays three times each and the Minnesota Twins and Pittsburgh Pirates twice each. The Orioles will square off with the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals once each at Ed Smith Stadium.

The Orioles will play 18 games on the road during the 2015 Grapefruit League schedule. They will make three trips to play the Blue Jays and Twins, two trips to play the Braves, Pirates, Rays, and Tigers, and one trip to play the Cardinals, Phillies, Red Sox, and Yankees.

Fans interested in Season Plans, or those wishing to receive additional Spring Training ticket information, may call the Orioles Spring Training office in Sarasota at 941-893-6300. Fans interested in additional information on suite rentals or pre-game party facilities should call 941-893-6348. Additional information on Orioles Spring Training is available at www.orioles.com/spring.

Single game tickets for all 16 games at Ed Smith Stadium will go on sale January 24, 2015.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES 2015 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

(opponents, locations, dates, and game times subject to change)

Day Date Opponent Location Time

Tuesday March 3 at Detroit Tigers Lakeland 1:05

Wednesday March 4 Detroit Tigers Sarasota 1:05

Thursday March 5 at Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05

Toronto Blue Jays Sarasota 7:05

Friday March 6 at Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin 1:05

Saturday March 7 Boston Red Sox (ss) Sarasota 1:05

Sunday March 8 at Minnesota Twins Ft. Myers 1:05

Monday March 9 Philadelphia Phillies Sarasota 1:05

Tuesday March 10 New York Yankees Sarasota 1:05

Wednesday March 11 Toronto Blue Jays Sarasota 1:05

Thursday March 12 at St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter 1:05

Friday March 13 at Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin 1:05

Saturday March 14 Tampa Bay Rays Sarasota 1:05

Sunday March 15 at Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton 1:05

Monday March 16 at Philadelphia Phillies Clearwater 1:05

Tuesday March 17 Minnesota Twins Sarasota 1:05

Wednesday March 18 at Minnesota Twins Ft. Myers 1:05

Thursday March 19 Pittsburgh Pirates Sarasota 1:05

Friday March 20 at Boston Red Sox Ft. Myers 1:05

Saturday March 21 at Minnesota Twins (ss) Ft. Myers 1:05

Sunday March 22 St. Louis Cardinals Sarasota 1:05

Monday March 23 OFF DAY

Tuesday March 24 at Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton 1:05

Wednesday March 25 Toronto Blue Jays Sarasota 1:05

Thursday March 26 at Detroit Tigers Lakeland 1:05

Friday March 27 Tampa Bay Rays Sarasota 1:05

Saturday March 28 at New York Yankees Tampa 1:05

Sunday March 29 Minnesota Twins Sarasota 1:05

at Toronto Blue Jays Dunedin 1:05

Monday March 30 at Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05

Tuesday March 31 Tampa Bay Rays (ss) Sarasota 1:05

Wednesday April 1 Pittsburgh Pirates Sarasota 7:05

Thursday April 2 at Atlanta Braves Orlando 6:05

Friday April 3 Atlanta Braves Sarasota 6:05

Saturday April 4 at Atlanta Braves Orlando 3:05

(ss)- split squad game

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Five questions for Orioles in final 10 games of regular season

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Five questions for Orioles in final 10 games of regular season

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles may have already wrapped up their first American League East title in 17 years, but a number of questions are left to be answered as they play out the remainder of the regular season.

Here’s a look at what remains on manager Buck Showalter’s mind for his 92-60 Orioles as they enter the final 10 games before the postseason …

1. Is it more important to go for the No. 1 seed in the American League or to rest everyday players?

Even though a 43-31 road record suggests the Orioles shouldn’t be afraid of playing away games in October, it’s difficult to argue with wanting home-field advantage considering Showalter’s club is a remarkable 30-8 at Camden Yards since June 30 and hasn’t lost consecutive home games since June 28-29. Entering Friday, they trailed the Los Angeles Angels by 2 1/2 games for the best record in the major leagues, a deficit that is far from insurmountable with the Angels playing Seattle and Oakland three times each — all six games are on the road — in their final nine games.

But Showalter also knows players who are fresh — or are at least as fresh as possible in October — are even more important to the Orioles’ chances of playing deep into the postseason. The early indications are that we’ll see position players such as Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Nelson Cruz, and Steve Pearce sit on a rotational basis of one or two per game, but Showalter has also said resting pitchers will be the higher priority.

The club’s top relievers have already been rested periodically over the last couple weeks as we’ve seen the likes of Ryan Webb, Evan Meek, and Brian Matusz pitch in some high-leverage situations while Darren O’Day, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton have gone unused in certain games when they’d usually be available. Showalter could also elect to give a spot start or two to Ubaldo Jimenez or Joe Saunders to align his rotation and give some extra rest to starters who have historically benefited from extra days like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez.

Entering Friday, the Orioles owned an eight-game lead over current No. 3 seed Detroit, so there isn’t any real danger of losing their grasp on the second seed if the Angels hold a steady lead into next week.

2. “I Don’t Know’s on third?”

While many have focused on the lost power potential of Chris Davis when news broke of his 25-game suspension last week, his absence at third base — where he was doing a solid job filling in for the injured Manny Machado — created the bigger dilemma as we’ve seen the trio of Ryan Flaherty, Jimmy Paredes, and veteran Kelly Johnson share time at the hot corner since last week.

Flaherty is the best defensive option, but his .645 on-base plus slugging percentage creates another weak spot in a lineup that’s already carrying the inconsistent rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop and one of the catching duo of Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley. Paredes and Johnson have provided some heroics with the bat in recent days, but neither provides a great deal of confidence defensively and they don’t have a track record — Johnson’s numbers in recent seasons are far inferior to the hitter he was four or five years ago — suggesting their offense will make a great impact in October, anyway.

It’s unlikely that Showalter will make a definitive choice for October, but his strong affinity for defense might make Flaherty the best bet of the three to receive extensive time — at least against right-handed starters — unless Paredes or Johnson continue to rake over the final 10 games going into the playoffs. Of course, there’s no guarantee that both Paredes and Johnson make the postseason roster.

3. Who will make up the four-man rotation for the playoffs?

Not counting Ubaldo Jimenez who appears all but certain to be left off the postseason roster, the Orioles really can’t go wrong with all five of their starters currently sporting an ERA of 3.62 or lower.

However, it would appear that Kevin Gausman is the starter left out considering he’s the least experienced of the group. Showalter’s decision to leave Chris Tillman out of the rotation in the 2012 postseason is a good indication that he’ll lean on experience, but the Orioles would be foolish not to put Gausman’s power arm in the bullpen to spell any starter showing signs of early trouble.

For the sake of ranking the remaining four from top to bottom, Tillman, Chen, Gonzalez, and Norris would be a fair order based on how they’ve pitched in recent weeks.

4. Which 25 players will make up the Division Series roster?

The Orioles elected to keep 12 pitchers for the Division Series two years ago, which gave them an eight-man bullpen and plenty of flexibility to match up.

There shouldn’t be too much drama in the bullpen as Britton, Miller, O’Day, Gausman, Matusz, Brad Brach, and Tommy Hunter would fill the first seven spots with the final slot potentially going to long man T.J. McFarland or right-hander Ryan Webb. With three of the four rotation members right-handed, McFarland could be Showalter’s preference in the event of an early exit by a starter as he’d be a long reliever throwing from the opposite side to face a lineup designed for the right-handed starter.

Working under the assumption that Jones, Markakis, Cruz, Hardy, Pearce, Schoop, Joseph, Hundley, Flaherty, Delmon Young, and Alejandro De Aza are locks, Paredes, Johnson, and outfielders David Lough and Quintin Berry would be the realistic candidates fighting for two spots. It will be interesting to see if Showalter values having either Lough or Berry as a pinch-running option and late-inning defensive replacement, which would push either Paredes or Johnson off the roster with the other  guaranteed to make it as an option at third base.

The suspended Davis isn’t eligible to return until after the first eight games of the postseason, so his status isn’t a factor for the Division Series.

5. Will the Orioles be able to maintain their edge?

With so much discussion about Showalter needing to rest his everyday players, there’s a fine balance between providing a breather and accidentally turning off a competitive switch that isn’t guaranteed to come back on in October.

This could be a real concern for many clubs locking up a playoff spot in mid-September, but the mental toughness shown from the likes of Jones and Markakis all the way down to Paredes and De Aza makes you think the Orioles are incapable of losing their focus. Of course, the possibility of still being able to catch the Angels for the top seed provides extra incentive for players to remain engaged over the final 10 games.

Considering they’ve overcome season-ending losses to two All-Star players and haven’t even blinked since Davis’ suspension began last week, it would be difficult to fathom the Orioles finally having a mental letdown at this late stage. The Orioles may ultimately fall short in the playoffs, but it won’t be due to a lack of focus or going through the motions.

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Orioles call up minor league player of year Walker

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Orioles call up minor league player of year Walker

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Luke Jones

A day after clinching their first American League East title in 17 years, the Orioles have called up their minor league player of the year.

The club announced Wednesday it had selected the contract of first baseman Christian Walker from Triple-A Norfolk. He will take the place of the suspended Chris Davis on the 40-man roster.

The 23-year-old Walker hit .288 with 53 extra-base hits, 97 runs batted in, and 73 runs scored in 139 games split between Double-A Bowie and the Tides. He had been working out as part of the Orioles’ “taxi squad” in Sarasota this month and is expected to spell veteran Steve Pearce at first base over the final 11 games of the regular season with the division title wrapped up.

Though Walker wasn’t eligible for the Rule 5 draft and did not need to be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason, the Orioles will take this time period as an opportunity to evaluate the 2014 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year. With Davis scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season, many view Walker as the Orioles’ first baseman of the future.

The former South Carolina Gamecock was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 amateur draft.

He will wear jersey No. 18.

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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

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Nothing typical about these AL East champion Orioles

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — For years, the discrepancy was clear as the Orioles wallowed at the bottom of the American League East.

Lagging behind in payroll and player development, they looked up at the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays while being stuck in neutral with no apparent direction or plan of how to get better. The Orioles didn’t spend like New York or Boston and couldn’t cultivate their own talent like Tampa Bay while suffering through a seemingly endless run of fourth- and fifth-place finishes in the toughest division in baseball year in and year out.

When the Orioles finally broke through Tuesday night with an 8-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays to win their first AL East title since 1997, it was an atypical sum of the parts that put them on top. Yes, their payroll is higher now than it was for years, but it still remains in the middle of the pack and far below those of the Yankees and Red Sox. Their farm system has produced a number of key players, but it isn’t the well-oiled machine like those of other top organizations in baseball.

It started with Andy MacPhail using some savvy trades and top draft picks to put together a core group of All-Star talent and continued with the arrival of manager Buck Showalter and current executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who began filling in the gaps with below-the-radar additions and, finally, a couple high-profile free agents this past winter. What’s resulted is a club that’s won more than 90 games for the second time in three years and appears poised to make a deep run in October.

The journey certainly hasn’t been easy as the season-ending injuries to catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado and the recent 25-game suspension of first baseman Chris Davis have provided easy excuses for the Orioles to wilt down the stretch. Not all has gone to plan as the $50 million free-agent addition of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been an utter failure in the first season of a four-year commitment.

But Tuesday’s win provided the perfect microcosm of what’s made the Orioles continue to thrive in 2014.

You can expect the unexpected.

Making his first start in a month after being dumped from the starting rotation, Jimenez overcame a shaky beginning to pitch five solid innings to earn just his fifth win of the season. Ironically, it was the kind of important game in which the Orioles envisioned Jimenez pitching when they signed him in February.

A three-run home run in the first inning came off the bat of Steve Pearce, the journeyman who was designated for assignment in April before being re-signed a few days later when Davis went on the disabled list. The 31-year-old has gone on to hit a career-high 18 homers, which is more than he’d hit in his first seven major league seasons combined. More than any other player, Pearce might be the ultimate symbol of the 2014 Orioles when the final chapter is written sometime next month.

A solo shot came an inning later from third baseman Jimmy Paredes, who was claimed off waivers by the Orioles during spring training and then lost to the Kansas City Royals a couple days later. Duquette eventually reacquired the 25-year-old in time for him to provide a handful of big hits in his few weeks with the club.

T.J. McFarland pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He was the Rule 5 selection the Orioles stubbornly retained on the 25-man roster all last season.

Darren O’Day provided 1 1/3 innings of excellent relief as he has for the last three seasons. The sidearm pitcher was claimed off waivers from Texas before Duquette was even hired three years ago.

Left field Alejandro De Aza hit the three-run triple in the seventh to bust the game open after he was acquired for two nondescript minor-league pitchers at the waiver trade deadline late last month.

Dominant lefty Andrew Miller struck out the only two hitters he faced and has been exactly what the Orioles envisioned when they acquired the best relief pitcher on the market while the rest of baseball lauded Oakland and Detroit for acquiring Jon Lester and David Price, respectively. The Orioles now own a better record than the Athletics and the Tigers.

When Pearce fielded the final out for the club’s 91st win of the season, it was just the latest example of the sum being much greater than the parts appear on paper.

There hasn’t been a set formula apparent to the rest of the baseball world that explains the Orioles’ ascent over the last few years, but they play great defense, hit home runs, and have pitched as well as anyone since early June. Those strengths have allowed them to overcome the loss of All-Star position players and failed free-agent acquisitions.

For Duquette and Showalter, the question isn’t who is the best player as much as it’s who is the best fit. It hasn’t been about spending money as much as it’s been about making the smartest decision.

And it’s been perfectly imperfect as Baltimore wrapped up the division title with 11 games to spare.

Whether they have 11 wins in them next month remains to be seen, but the journey to this point has been both difficult and overwhelmingly rewarding.

And it paid off with a celebration at Camden Yards Tuesday night while the rest of the American League East was looking up at the Orioles for a change.

 

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