In late August 2014, the Orioles were on their way to the American League East title. But, on the way, they stopped in Wrigley Field and got swept by the Chicago Cubs.
At the time, the Cubs were on their way to a last place finish, and bore little resemblance to the team that advanced to the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night.
Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks started games. Hector Rondon finished them, but Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber weren’t yet on the team.
We saw Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, but didn’t get to hear Starlin Castro’s catchy walk-up song, “Ando En La Versace” by Omega because he was hurt. We did hear “Go Cubs Go,” only played after wins.
Right after the Cubs sweep, which knocked the Orioles back to 18 games over .500, the team returned home to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays were managed by Joe Maddon, who engaged in some notable battles with Buck Showalter.
Maddon abruptly left Tampa Bay after the season, and has had a wonderful season in Chicago.
Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Pedro Strop are on their way to the NLCS, and here’s hoping that Maddon finds a way to get Tommy Hunter active for the series against the Mets and Dodgers.
In splitting two games in New York, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly managed to avoid using Chase Utley, who is appealing his two-game suspension for breaking Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada’s leg. That hearing won’t take place until Monday.
By that time, the Dodgers will be in Chicago for the third game of the NLCS or deciding if Mattingly, whose outstanding minor league play convinced Showalter he’d never be a New York Yankee, will return as L.A.’ s manager.
While the Cubs have lots of Orioles connections, the Dodgers have Justin Turner, who briefly played with the Orioles in 2009 and 2010, and was memorable mostly for his flaming red hair. The Mets have Kelly Johnson, who made history with the Orioles in 2015 by being the first who played for all five A.L. East teams.
The AL Division series conclude today with both the Houston-Kansas City and Texas-Toronto series tied at two.
At the beginning of the Division Series, I thought the Cubs, Dodgers, Royals and Blue Jays would emerge. For a time a few days ago, I thought I’d be wrong on all counts.
This year, it looks like the Cubs are that team just as the Royals seemed when they ran through the Orioles a year ago. We’ll see if this year’s Madison Bumgarner is around to stop them.
NOTE: L.J. Hoes, who Baseball America reported was a free agent yesterday is not. The former Oriole outfielder is still on the Houston Astros’ 40-man roster.
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