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Where does 2014 rank among Orioles’ most exciting seasons since 1983?

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Where does 2014 rank among Orioles’ most exciting seasons since 1983?

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Luke Jones

Though only a couple days have passed since the Orioles’ disappointing elimination from the American League Championship Series at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, we begin to reflect on what was an exceptional season that netted the franchise’s first AL East championship in 17 years.

The Orioles still have a long way to go to approach their glory days of 1966 through 1983, but two postseason appearances in the last three years represent a good start that fans hope will culminate with the franchise’s first World Series title in over 30 years before the current run is over. However, it’s difficult to argue you how special the 2014 season was in what’s been an underwhelming 31 years since Cal Ripken caught the final out of Game 5 of the 1983 Fall Classic.

Where does 2014 rank among the greatest Orioles seasons since 1983?

Below is a brief look at five candidates before you vote for your favorite in the poll. If you have a different season in mind, feel free to make your case in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Which is your favorite season of Orioles baseball since 1983?

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1. 1989 “Why Not?” season
Skinny: After losing a major league record 21 straight games to begin the season and finishing a woeful 54-107 a year earlier, the 1989 Orioles spent a remarkable 119 days in first place and owned a 7 1/2 game lead in late July. The season was highlighted by a number of comeback wins and contributions from the unlikeliest of players. Though they fell short in their quest for the division title in the final weekend of the season in Toronto, the new-look Orioles of 1989 went down as one of the most surprising and exciting clubs in franchise history after having no expectations at the start of the season. 

2. 1996 Wild Card team
Skinny: After underachieving for much of the season under new manager Davey Johnson, the veteran-laden Orioles got hot down the stretch and went 37-22 over the final two months of the 1996 season to clinch their first wild card berth. Breaking the all-time record for most home runs by a team in a single year, four Orioles scored at least 100 runs, four drove in at least 100, and seven hit at least 20 homers. The 88-74 Orioles upset the heavily-favored defending AL champion Cleveland Indians in the Division Series before bowing out in the ALCS to the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees in six games.

3. 1997 wire-to-wire AL East champions
Skinny: Unlike the previous year, the 1997 Orioles started fast and never looked back on the way to becoming the sixth team in major league history to stay in first place from Opening Day through the end of the regular season. Their 98 wins were their most since winning the World Series in 1983 and the Orioles appeared on their way to their first pennant in 14 years before Cleveland exacted revenge for the previous year by stunning Baltimore in the ALCS in six games. As if the defeat weren’t painful enough, the following season would begin a dubious streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons. 

4. 2012 Wild Card team
Skinny: Manager Buck Showalter had begun changing the losing culture of the organization from the time he arrived two years earlier, but the results on the field didn’t match it until 2012 when the underdog Orioles won 93 games and hung tough with the first-place Yankees throughout the month of September. Settling for a wild card berth, the Orioles bested the Texas Rangers in the first Wild Card Game to advance to the Division Series where Camden Yards witnessed its first postseason games in 15 years. In a very competitive and entertaining series, the Orioles fell in five games to the Yankees, but the season signaled the end of Baltimore’s extended stay in the baseball doldrums.

5. 2014 AL East champions
Skinny: Despite losing All-Star players Matt Wieters, Manny Machado, and Chris Davis for extended periods of the season, the Orioles ran away with the AL East by a staggering 12 games. Baltimore clinched and celebrated its first division title in 17 years at Camden Yards before sweeping the Division Series against the Detroit Tigers and besting the last three Cy Young Award winners to do it. The series also brought arguably the most exciting in-game moment in the history of Camden Yards when pinch-hitter Delmon Young smacked a go-ahead three-run double in the eighth inning to win Game 2. The sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS was painful, but the disappointment didn’t erase the memory of a remarkable run.

 

 

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Ten talking points for Orioles-Royals ALCS matchup

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Ten talking points for Orioles-Royals ALCS matchup

Posted on 08 October 2014 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles prepare to play the Kansas City Royals for the first time ever in the postseason and for the right to advance to their first World Series in 31 years, here are 10 talking points to break down their meeting in the American League Championship Series beginning Friday night:

1. It isn’t Eddie Murray vs. George Brett, but the tradition of yesteryear in each city makes this series a blast.

Yes, it’s been three decades since either the Orioles or Royals found themselves playing in the Fall Classic, but that’s what makes this series so much fun as younger baseball fan will be exposed to the history of each franchise. From 1973 through 1985, Baltimore and Kansas City combined to win two World Series titles, four AL pennants, and 10 division championships and were regarded as two of the model franchises in the major leagues. This history may not mean much to the current players or have any impact on the play on the field, but the fans’ thirst for a World Series will be palpable at both Kauffman Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

2. You won’t find more contrasting offensive styles with the stakes so high.

It’s thunder against lightning as the Orioles led the major leagues with 211 home runs while the Royals stole more bases (153) than any of the 29 other clubs. Meanwhile, Baltimore stole the fewest number of bases (44) in the big leagues and Kansas City ranked 30th with only 95 home runs. Five Royals players hit double digits in swiped bags while the Orioles’ leader in the category was David Lough with eight. Seven Orioles hit 12 or more homers — Manny Machado and Chris Davis will not play in this series — compared to just three for Kansas City. Despite their contrasting styles, the Orioles finished the regular season ranked sixth in the AL in runs with 705 compared to Kansas City coming in ninth with 651. Baltimore has the better offense over the long haul, but the Royals will try to turn a short series into a 100-meter dash while the Orioles emphasize their advantage in the shot put.

3. The Royals stack up more favorably to the Baltimore defense that Detroit did.

The Orioles still have the edge in the field, but Kansas City has a number of Gold Glove-caliber players including catcher Salvador Perez and outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. The Orioles rank third in the AL in BaseballReference.com’s defensive efficiency statistic while the Royals came in sixth in the regular season. Baltimore made the third-fewest number of errors (87) in the AL this season while Kansas City ranked 10th with 104. Both clubs made sparkling plays in the Division Series and rely on their defense to make a difference in close games.

4. Scoring early will be a high priority for both clubs.

Unlike the luxury the Orioles had against Detroit in the Division Series, they cannot expect to wait out starting pitchers for scoring opportunities in the late inning against the Royals, whose trio of Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera might be even better than their own triumvirate of Zach Britton, Andrew Miller, and Darren O’Day. The Orioles’ 3.10 bullpen ERA ranked third in the AL while Kansas City’s 3.30 mark ranked fifth, which will cause both lineups to feel the urgency to break through prior to the sixth inning. Even with so many other great names in each bullpen, the wild cards could be right-hander Kevin Gausman and Kansas City lefty Brandon Finnegan, who made a major impact in the Wild Card Game after only being drafted in the first round out of Texas Christian a few months ago.

5. The spotlight will be much brighter on Adam Jones to produce in this series.

It’s cruel to judge any player on a sample size of only 37 at-bats, but the Orioles center fielder has amassed only four hits in his postseason career and will feel the heat if his bat doesn’t wake up in the ALCS. Being an aggressive hitter throughout his career, Jones must fight the urge to over-swing, especially when he has opportunities to drive in runs. The 29-year-old singled and walked in his final two plate appearances of the ALDS, which the Orioles hope are signs of better things to come this October for a player who’s meant so much to the club’s success over the last three years. Nelson Cruz carried the Orioles in the ALDS, but Jones waking up would make them even more difficult to beat in a best-of-seven series.

6. The Orioles are better equipped to handle Kansas City’s jackrabbits on the base paths.

The Royals are an incredible 12-for-13 attempting to steal in the postseason, which has certainly provided Buck Showalter with some restless nights this week. However, the Orioles will have more success in slowing Kansas City runners than either Oakland or the Angels because of their focus on slowing an opposing club’s running game. Baltimore ranked sixth in the AL by throwing out 28 percent of runners attempting to steal, but the fact that they faced the fourth-fewest number of stolen base attempts is a reflection of how well pitchers hold runners and how quick they are to the plate to help catchers Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley. Of the two, Joseph is more adept at gunning down runners (a 40 percent success rate to Hundley’s 19 percent), so it will be interesting to see how much more Showalter might lean on the younger catcher in this series after Hundley started two of the three ALDS games.

7. Former Oriole starter Jeremy Guthrie pitching against his former club in the ALCS will be somewhat surreal.

With apologies to Baltimore reserve Jimmy Paredes, Guthrie is the most intriguing name to face his former team in this series and had the misfortune of being dealt away from the Orioles just before their resurgence in 2012. The classy right-hander has found a home with the Royals where he’s continued to be a solid member of the rotation and has been rewarded with a taste of the postseason after pitching respectably on some otherwise awful Orioles clubs from 2007 through 2011. Though Guthrie probably wouldn’t be slated to start before Game 4 unless the Royals elect to go with Danny Duffy in the rotation and put him in the bullpen, it will be interesting to see the Orioles face the 35-year-old, who acts as a symbol of the club’s past as they seek their first AL pennant in 31 years.

8. Neither club received enough credit for its starting pitching during the regular season.

The Orioles and Royals are known for their stout bullpens, but their rotations have been very effective despite lacking big names. The projected Game 1 starters, Chris Tillman and James Shields, are two of the better pitchers in the AL — the latter for a longer period of time — but each has just one All-Star appearance to his name. Baltimore’s starter ERA of 3.61 ranked just a hair below the Royals’ fourth-ranked 3.60 mark in the AL. The strong bullpens for both sides decrease the chances of any starter pitching particularly deep into games, but there’s no reason to think either side will have problems in this department.

9. This series may feature the two best relievers in baseball right now — and neither are closers.

While Britton and Holland have been two of the best ninth-inning men in baseball in 2014, Miller and Davis are the scariest weapons in their respective bullpens as they combined to strike out 212 hitters in 134 1/3 innings during the regular season. Miller’s ERA was 1.35 in 23 regular-season appearances for the Orioles after being dealt by Boston while Davis posted a 1.00 ERA in 71 appearances for Kansas City this year. Showalter has already demonstrated he’s not afraid to use Miller for more than one inning in the postseason while Davis was a starter as recently as last season, making you think he can be stretched out as well. Regardless of who ends up winning this series, it would be shocking if Miller and Davis aren’t the busiest bullpen arms in the best-of-seven showdown.

10. Buck Showalter has a sizable advantage over Ned Yost on this stage.

The strong sentiment shared among many around baseball is that the Royals have won in spite of their manager, who prefers the small-ball tactics detested by sabermetricians. Meanwhile, Showalter often speaks of his preference to not waste his offense’s 27 outs per game and rarely calls for sacrifice bunts and other tactics such as the hit and run. You do wonder if the Orioles’ strong bullpen will press Yost to lean even more on manufacturing runs than he normally does, but Showalter is more likely to stay the course with his lineup — even against the Royals’ stingy relievers. As for bullpen management, the skipper who is more willing to break the standard thinking of when to use his relievers will give his team the edge. Showalter is the superior tactician and has already shown his willingness to stretch his best relievers during the Division Series.

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We debut our #WNSTSweet16 list with the Greatest Local Sports debuts

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We debut our #WNSTSweet16 list with the Greatest Local Sports debuts

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

On Sunday night we introduced our first #WNSTSweet16 discussion topic for 2014. As we celebrate 16 years as Baltimore’s local sports media leader, we’re looking at some of the “water cooler” topics you’ve most discussed since we first turned on the microphone.

With the debut of #WNSTSweet16, our first list focuses on just that-debuts. The Greatest Local Sports Debuts is the topic in fact. As we look over the history of Baltimore (and Maryland) sports, what single games, seasons, etc. stand out as the best of the best?

We’ve been discussing the topic here, on-air at AM1570 WNST and on social media for the last couple of days and will continue to do so. Here’s the list.

16. The inaugural season of the Baltimore CFL Colts/Baltimore CFL’s/Baltimore Football Club/Baltimore Stallions (1994)

As I look back on the first of two years of Canadian football in Charm City, what stands out most was the attendance figures for the home games.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, that’s 31,000 or more fans at EVERY home game at Memorial Stadium to watch (let’s be honest) a second rate product. It was a remarkable testament to the rabid nature of football fandom in Baltimore and further proof of the city’s worthiness of a NFL return. The team itself was quite good-including future NFL players like O.J. Brigance, Josh Miller and Shar Pourandesh as well as Canadian Football Hall of Famers like Tracey Ham and Mike Pringle. The season ended with a loss to the BC Lions in the Grey Cup, a year before the franchise would become the only American team to ever win a Grey Cup.

No. 15 next page…

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On Halloween weekend, perhaps it’s fitting to have a schedule-gate horror sequel

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On Halloween weekend, perhaps it’s fitting to have a schedule-gate horror sequel

Posted on 02 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

The Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII will obviously go down as the biggest sports story of 2013 here in Baltimore. But for those of us who live in Charm City-we truly know the story that has actually been the most discussed.

The Ravens opened on the road in 2013-getting absolutely crushed by the Denver Broncos in the process-due to the fact that the Baltimore Orioles were previously scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox on September 5-a date that was traditionally held for the defending Super Bowl champs to open at home.

The debate that occurred between when the Ravens won the Super Bowl and when they played the Thursday night opener in the Mile High City was one of the historically contentious debates our city has ever seen. Instead of debating what was best for the city, the debate became more about allegiances. The common question was about whether you supported the Ravens or the Orioles-the National Football League or Major League Baseball-and who you thought the bad guys were in the process.

What was so rarely discussed was what was best for Baltimore and what needed to happen to ensure such issues wouldn’t occur moving forward. As I mentioned in a column this March, this issue wasn’t as uncommon as some wanted to paint it. I reported then that the 2012 Baltimore Marathon was dangerously close to being cancelled because the O’s could have ended up hosting Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS had they won the AL East. (They would have still needed to win the ALDS to host the first two games of the Championship Series, but the race would have been cancelled prior to that because of the possibility.)

As I reported in March, the Birds had the power to force such a cancellation because in their lease agreement for the Camden Yards complex with the Maryland Stadium Authority-they have been granted not only the first right to dates available, but they have essentially been granted ALL rights to dates available. They have the exclusive power to decide they want a date for a game (or an event), preventing the Baltimore Ravens or another entity from using the complex.

I told you then this situation wasn’t going anywhere. I told you then this was an issue that needed to be addressed in a bigger picture scope than just adjusting a football game. I wasn’t kidding.

The situation already looms as a factor twice in 2014. The Orioles are scheduled to be home against the Cleveland Indians over Memorial Day weekend-the same weekend the Ravens are scheduled to host the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium. Then on Labor Day weekend the Birds are scheduled to be home against the Minnesota Twins-the same weekend Ohio State is scheduled to face Navy at the home of the Ravens. The scheduling complexities of that weekend have already lead to the cancellation of the Grand Prix of Baltimore for at least the next two years if not longer. No solutions have been determined for those events-instead the parties involved appear to simply be hoping those events will work out.

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Your Monday Reality Check: “Magic”-al weekend saw both rightful, misplaced passion

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Your Monday Reality Check: “Magic”-al weekend saw both rightful, misplaced passion

Posted on 03 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

I know well that Baltimore Orioles fans weren’t REALLY mad that a pitcher was thrown out of a game for hitting a batter on the first pitch after giving up three straight home runs.

I know very well that Baltimore Orioles fans were mad about late Saturday afternoon was THEIR pitcher getting thrown out of a game for hitting a batter on the first pitch after giving up three straight home runs.

As much as I wasn’t interested in fighting with baseball fans on Twitter, I was certainly happy to see the passion. The passion has been perhaps my favorite part of the Birds’ resurgence over the last 14 months.

I was up close and personal (okay, ten rows back) from that very passion Friday night. I had a great friend invite me down to Oriole Park at Camden Yards after our live broadcast of “The Reality Check” at Hooters Friday afternoon. My fiancé and I spent the evening wandering through the ballpark with our friends, taking in the Centerfield Bar, the Orioles’ corporate suite and our fantastic lower level seats at the sold out game against the Detroit Tigers. (I don’t say those things to rub in how great my night was, but instead to offer another thank you to my friend Mike-who might very well be reading this. He was a tremendous host. Indulge me for his sake, please.)

When Nick Markakis came to the plate to lead off the 9th inning, I couldn’t find a single person that wasn’t standing. By the time Chris Dickerson sent everyone home happy, the 40,000 or so in attendance were whipped into an absolute frenzy.

It was one of the more amazing moments I could ever remember as a baseball fan…and it might not have even been the most exciting victory the O’s had all week.

There was more passion inside OPAC Y Friday night than any sunrise Easter service I’ve ever attended in my life. It was a night full of fire, a night full of madness and a night full of, well, Orange Fever.

Dickerson perhaps supplied the final act of “Orioles Magic” with his three run, two out walk-off jack; but the displays of “Orioles Magic” were bountiful from the time I hit President Street at 1pm and couldn’t get to Harborplace until 1:55 because the city was packed.

There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as fans came by to see Larry Sheets while we were sitting at Hooters. There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as a group of Orange and Black supporters shouted down Tigers fans who came to visit at Hooters and declared they had made the trip because “the Tigers were winning the World Series and they wanted to see as many games during the World Series year as possible.” They also couldn’t believe Luke Jones would describe the Orioles as having the American League’s best offense. I’m so glad the Birds were able to make them second guess by Sunday evening.

There were displays of “Orioles Magic” as we walked to and from the stadium. They were of course more after the game, including many who wanted to go out of their way to throw high fives or start a “Seven Nation Army” chant back up.

“Orioles Magic” was everywhere. The passion was real.

The passion was real again Saturday, but I wasn’t necessary as close to the action for it. I had to attend an ex’s wedding in Pikesville Saturday night and watched the better part of the game from my couch.

I’ll admit, it didn’t give me quite as good of a view of Matt Tuiasosopo’s shoulder as home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt did when Jason Hammel plunked it. My view also included a MASN broadcast where Mike Bordick wasted no time in letting me know the pitch was a slider and barely more than 80 miles an hour. Obviously no pitcher could ever purposefully hit a batter with such a pitch.

Obviously.

I took to Twitter to say the following…

It lead to a 30 minute back and forth that included legitimately ANGRY responses from 20-30 Orioles fans absolutely bullish about how disastrous of a decision Wendelstedt had made to toss Hammel without a warning.

Because apparently giving up three straight home runs suddenly needs to come with a warning.

Hendelstedt of course had every right to toss Hammel from the game. He didn’t have a radar gun available behind the plate, but even if he could tell the ball wasn’t thrown with Nolan Ryan heat, he had the right to decipher the pitch may well have been thrown with frustration.

Warnings come when an umpire fears retaliation. Ejects come when an umpire fears a pitcher throw a ball merely out of frustration.

Sometimes those decisions come with collateral damage. Hammel (and just about everyone connected to the organization) wanted to let you know after the game that there was no intent involved in the pitch. Of course, if you can remember the time a pitcher admitted intent after a game I’d love to have you forward it to me. (It’s glenn@wnst.net by the way.) (Edit from GC: I absolutely meant to say “admitted intent after a game and wasn’t suspended. I did not. It’s my fault and I apologize. Thanks to those of you who reminded me that Cole Hamels had indeed admitted intent after plunking Bryce Harper.)

Sadly, no umpire has the time to stop the game and conduct a full trial to determine intent on a pitch. I don’t necessarily think Jason Hammel intended to plunk Matt Tuiasosopo, but I don’t know for sure he didn’t, either.

Neither does anyone else, despite how many of you angrily Tweeted otherwise.

But I get it. It’s passion. It’s magical.

It’s way better than everyone getting together to ignore Eric DuBose’s most recent start together.

-G

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Schedule-gate 2013: We’re not all going to get everything we want

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Schedule-gate 2013: We’re not all going to get everything we want

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Glenn Clark

“You play games on holidays all the time, including Rosh Hashanah. Just move the game to Wednesday.”  

I’ve talked myself into and out of writing about this about ten times in the last couple of days.

For some reason, a simple issue related to scheduling has turned into a referendum related to singular support of one of Baltimore’s two major professional sports teams. Once again, we’ve drawn a line in the sand and said “either you’re with the Orioles or you’re with the Ravens. No other way around it.”

It reminds me of how most people view social, economical and political issues in this country. You HAVE to support the beliefs of one side of the political spectrum or the other. There’s no room for discourse. Personally, I side sometimes with liberals (I am fully supportive of marriage equality) and other times with conservatives (Rand Paul had every right to know whether or not the President would be willing to kill American citizens on American soil).

Unfortunately, if I were to side with one political party or the other, I would find myself ostracized for not simply toeing the party line. This week has somehow because a week of talking points and finger pointing without any willingness to completely discuss all aspects of the issue and accept there may be a little bit more to be accomplished than playing a blame game.

We know the situation. Because the Ravens won the Super Bowl, the NFL intended to extend to them the recent tradition of opening the following season at home. Unfortunately for the Ravens, the Orioles are scheduled to host the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, making the game an impossibility because the Ravens share the downtown Camden Yards Sports Complex.

Somehow instead of working proactively to try to solve the problem, the two sides have instead reached excruciating levels to make sure the appropriate level of blame was placed in one direction or another.

The bad news for those who have supported the Ravens in this battle is that the people who point this out the holiday hypocrisy are absolutely right to do so. The NFL has claimed the Jewish holiday as the reason they don’t want to move the season opener back to Wednesday, as they did a year ago to not go head to head against President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Some fans have gone to an extremely ignorant level to make this point. I have stated that personally-I, Glenn Clark, would provide that no league play ANY games on any particular holiday. That’s a one man grandstand and as a caller reminded me this week, “that ship has already sailed.” The league plays on holidays.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it apparent at the league’s meetings in Phoenix he expected his team to be the opponent in the opener in Charm City. It has lead some to believe that this is simply the league kowtowing to Kraft because he’s Jewish. I’m not really going to even bother responding because the real answer isn’t particularly relevant.

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Orioles, Ravens hope to accommodate smokers after Stadium Authority ban

Posted on 25 February 2013 by WNST Staff

The Maryland Stadium Authority is implementing a ban on smoking at the Camden Yards Sports Complex, which includes both Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Effective March 4, 2013, the ban will apply to all games and events held within the stadium structures at Camden Yards.

The ban prohibits the “the burning of a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco” within the stadiums–whether such spaces are covered or uncovered, walled or exposed, or open or closed to public access. The ban will also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of any entry, outdoor air intake, or operable window of the stadium structures.

Roy Sommerhof, Vice President of Stadium Operations for the Ravens, said the team will make accommodations for those attending football games and other special events held at M&T Bank Stadium who wish to smoke.
The Orioles will announce a similar policy to accommodate smokers prior to Opening Day.

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

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Orioles-Yankees lineups for Game 2 of ALDS

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles will send left-hander Wei-Yin Chen to the mound in hopes of evening the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at one game apiece.

Here are Monday night’s lineups as the Orioles face off against Yankees veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte for the first time since Sept. 19, 2010. The Baltimore lineup surprisingly includes left-handed designated hitter Jim Thome, who hasn’t faced southpaw pitching very often this season.

The 42-year-old is 5-for-28 against left-handed pitching this season but does have three home runs.

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Chris Davis
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
DH Jim Thome
3B Manny Machado
2B Robert Andino

SP Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA)

NEW YORK
SS Derek Jeter
LF Ichiro Suzuki
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
C Russell Martin
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Eduardo Nunez

SP Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 ERA)

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I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

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I just took a vicious gut punch and can’t wait to do it again

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

There is no 15-7-0 this week. I’m a man with priorities.

My priorities Sunday were quite simple. I wanted to get through pre-game and post-game shows, enjoy a Ravens win and get to Oriole Park at Camden Yards as quickly as possible to watch a playoff game with my family.

At the end of the night, those priorities were realities even if the day didn’t play out exactly the way we had hoped it would.

Sunday night was everything baseball in Baltimore should be. It was an incredible gathering of friends and family for a vitally important civic event in a town where family names have baseball connections. We’re familiar with these types of nights in Baltimore, we just know them as “football games”. We’ve waited not so patiently for another one on the baseball diamond for a decade and a half.

It finally came Sunday night and it was absolutely as intense and electric and meaningful as any lifelong (or even Johnny-come-lately) Baltimore Orioles fan could have imagined it would be.

You know what’s amazing? I stood in the outfield for two hours during a rain delay and never heard a single complaint. Not about the lines for beer, not about the weather itself, not about the massive crowds making it difficult to maneuver or find space to stand comfortably.

Hell, we had waited 15 years. What’s another couple of hours?

After the New York Yankees were introduced to a less than partial crowd, there was a break before introducing the home team to their fans. The break might have been mere seconds, but it felt like time stood still. I remember the first time being alone with a girl at 16 years old, but I don’t remember my anticipation ever being as great as it was in those moments. The opportunity to show appreciation for ending one of the most miserable runs a fan base has experienced was a moment not soon to be forgotten.

That moment was followed up by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Perry Hall High School shooting victim Daniel Borowy and guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer, the man who stepped in and defined heroism in fending off the shooter that August morning. As a PHHS grad who has remained very close to the school in recent years (and who both went to school with and grew up down the street from Jesse to boot), I will admit that I lost it a bit during the moment. Even those without Gators ties could certainly revel in the significance of the occasion. THIS is truly a representation of what Orioles baseball should be. The most important things happening in our community should be tied to, recognized by and celebrated with the franchise that has remained in our city since 1954.

This was a moment that far transcended sports.

As Game 1 of the ALDS went along, it felt like every pitch was the most important ever thrown in the history of the sport. Each tantalizing inch around the plate was crucial, with fans hanging on every centimeter afforded to CC Sabathia but taken away from Jason Hammel. When the Birds were able to break through and plate two runs off the bat of Nate McLouth in the 3rd inning the staff at OPACY could have set off actual fireworks and they might have gone unnoticed by a crowd that could only be described as bat-sh*t bonkers.

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Steve Johnson’s health factors into decision to keep him off roster

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Steve Johnson’s health factors into decision to keep him off roster

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Manager Buck Showalter decided to sleep on it before finalizing his 25-man roster for the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

Even then, he admitted it was a very difficult process to leave several good arms off the roster, including pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton.

“It’s hard to handicap what’s more particularly [difficult] — this guy or that guy — they’re all hard,” Showalter said. “We put a lot of thought with keeping mind you have to be cautious if you have an issue physically with somebody.”

The decision to leave the local product Johnson off the roster was especially difficult with his contributions down the stretch as a starter filling in for Game 1 starter Jason Hammel. Making four starts and appearing in 12 games this season, Johnson went 4-0 with a 2.11 earned run average in 38 1/3 innings.

However, the rookie injured his left knee after landing awkwardly from taking a comebacker hit by Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on Sept. 29. Johnson deemed himself ready to go this week and would have likely started a potential division tiebreaker against the Yankees on Thursday had the Orioles finished in a tie at the end of the regular season, but some uncertainty remained in the mind of Showalter.

“As good as we think Steve could feel, there’s some unknown there with the knee,” Showalter said. “But, we’re going to keep him here. We’re going to send probably a couple guys down to Sarasota to the instructional league to be in that camp there, but we’ll decide that after the game. Every one of those guys, as I told them today, has to have the mindset that they’re playing tomorrow, because they could be.”

Johnson will remain on call should there be a health issue with Hammel or another pitcher on the 25-man roster while a few others such as Britton and outfielder Xavier Avery will be sent to Sarasota to compete in the instructional league to stay sharp in case they’re needed later in the postseason.

For Sunday night’s game, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman will be available out of the bullpen if necessary. Gonzalez is tentatively slated to start Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

The Orioles elected to keep Tommy Hunter on the 25-man roster as a power right-handed arm and potential long reliever. He has pitched effectively in relief, posting a 0.71 ERA out of the bullpen in 12 2/3 innings covering 10 September appearances.

“If we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too,” Showalter said. “He’s certainly done that since he’s pitched out of the pen. He can give us some length out of there if we need it. The off day plays into it a lot.”

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