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Orioles advance, 5-1 over 2-time AL champion Texas


Orioles advance, 5-1 over 2-time AL champion Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Buck Showalter thrust his arm into the air, then stood back and savored watching his surprising Baltimore Orioles celebrate on the field.

Champagne showers followed in the clubhouse after hugs from their manager following a 5-1 victory over the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers in the league's first win-or-go-home wild-card playoff Friday night.

``One of our biggest regrets of the year would have been if our guys couldn't have a moment after the game like that,'' Showalter said. ``We came so close a couple times. We got in the playoffs and didn't really get to.''

The Orioles were on a team flight from Baltimore to Tampa Bay last Sunday night when their first playoff berth in 15 years was clinched. Now they get to go home for another shot to overtake the New York Yankees, with a best-of-five division series that starts Sunday at Camden Yards.

For Texas, which twice came within a strike of its first World Series title last October, there is nothing to celebrate. The Rangers didn't win a postseason game this time, even with Yu Darvish on the mound at home.

They lost nine of their last 13 games in the regular season, which cost them their AL West crown on the final day after being swept by Oakland and put them in an unexpected elimination game - especially after leading the division for a majors-best 178 days.

``To be honest with you, I never thought anything like this would happen,'' manager Ron Washington said. ``I don't get pessimistic, I always stay optimistic, and when things like this happen, I am shocked. And right now, I'm shocked.''

Texas is starting its longest offseason in three years, while Joe Saunders and the Orioles keep playing. Baltimore split 18 games this season with the East champion Yankees, the AL's top seed.

Saunders, acquired by Baltimore from Arizona in late August, had lost all six of his previous starts with a 9.38 ERA at Rangers Ballpark. And the Orioles bullpen was already scrambling after Saunders, who hadn't walked anybody his previous three starts, started the game by walking Ian Kinsler and giving up a single to Elvis Andrus.

But Saunders pitched effectively into the sixth. He also benefited from three double-play grounders, including Josh Hamilton's in the first that sent Kinsler home with the only Texas run.

``Just an awesome experience. It means everything,'' Saunders said. ``It's special to prove people wrong. I've been telling people all along that I've pitched better than my numbers here. ... I love being the underdog. To knock off the defending two-time champs from the past couple of years is pretty amazing.''

Hamilton wound up getting booed in what might have been his last home game in a Rangers uniform.

The slugger was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, both on three pitches. He swung at the first pitch his other at-bats - including the double play in the first and a comebacker to start the sixth. He struck out with a runner at second base to end the eighth, when it was still a 3-1 game.

The former AL MVP and batting champion is eligible for free agency, and the Rangers might not be willing to pay the big money likely necessary to keep him.

``I hadn't thought about it too much. I'm going to go home, spend some time with the family and figure out what's going on,'' Hamilton said. ``I'd love to stay here. They understand it and know that. ... Even if you send me off with boos, I still love you.''

Four pitches into the game, the Orioles led against Darvish, who struck out seven while allowing three runs (two earned) in 6 2-3 innings.

Nate McLouth grounded Darvish's first pitch toward first baseman Michael Young. The longest-tenured Rangers player got charged with an error when he tried to backhand the ball, which ricocheted off the heel of his glove and away from him.

McLouth stole second base on the third pitch. J.J. Hardy then drove him in by grounding a hard single up the middle.

The O's had consecutive singles to start the sixth before Adam Jones' sacrifice fly made it 2-1. McLouth added an RBI single in the seventh and had a sac fly in the ninth, when the Orioles scored twice off Rangers closer Joe Nathan.

Jim Johnson, who set an Orioles record with 51 saves, allowed a walk and two hits in the ninth, including a two-out pinch single by 19-year-old Jurickson Profar that loaded the bases, before David Murphy's season-ending flyball caught by McLouth in left field.

``Me and my teammates and the Rangers' fans, I don't think we all thought that it would end this early,'' Darvish said through a translator. ``I mean, right now, no. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do tomorrow.''

Darvish won 16 games in his rookie season in the majors, after the Rangers committed more than $107 million last winter to acquire Japan's best pitcher. The 26-year-old right-hander was 8-2 with a 1.38 ERA in 11 postseason starts in Japan the past six seasons.

Showalter managed in Texas for four years before being fired and replaced by Washington after the 2006 season. Darren O'Day, the sidewinder who pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Saunders, is one of seven former Rangers players now with Baltimore - and advancing in the playoffs.

``I have a lot of respect for the Texas Rangers and what they've done these past few years and the opportunity they gave me,'' said O'Day. ``It was more satisfying just to make the playoffs with this group of guys. People thought we'd be making tee times right now.''

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."


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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm