The New York Yankees looked lifeless in their three losses to the Orioles this past weekend. So, it wasn’t a surprise that they looked inept in Tuesday’s night’s wild card game.
Orioles fans couldn’t care less about the Houston Astros. They’ve only been in the American League for three seasons and really have no players in common with the Orioles.
But, the Astros were playing the Yankees, and lots of Orioles fans are a bit happier this morning.
Of the four remaining teams in the American League, the Orioles have the least familiarity with the current Astros. They last played them four months ago before, just a few days before possible AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa debuted. Carlos Gomez didn’t arrive until the trading deadline.
The only former Oriole on the team was Scott Feldman, who spent the second half of 2013 in Baltimore, and Feldman is currently hurt.
Setup man Pat Neshek was in spring training with the team in 2012, making a good impression and spent several months in Norfolk before exercising an opt-out clause.
And there’s Colby Rasmus, who Buck Showalter personally pursued in January. Showalter decided that Rasmus would fit in with the Orioles, but the enigmatic slugger took a better offer from Houston.
Rasmus had 25 home runs and hit another in the Astros’ 3-0 win.
Houston goes on to play the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles developed a healthy disdain for the Royals last season, and it continued this year.
Kansas City swept the Orioles in four games in last year’s ALCS and took three of four in K.C. in August. The Orioles won two of three from the Royals last month.
Two of the Orioles’ three wins came against Johnny Cueto, who they faced for the first time, and is likely to be a prized free agent this off-season.
Jeremy Guthrie, whom Cueto displaced from the rotation, is a former Oriole, who irked his onetime team by wearing a T-shirt denigrating them to an interview session during last year’s ALCS.
The Royals were last year’s feisty underdog, and were within an eyelash of winning the World Series. This year, last year’s wild-card winners had the best record in the American League.
The Orioles have recent experience with the two other AL playoff teams: the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rangers took six of seven between the two teams, including a three-game sweep at the end of August.
The Blue Jays clinched the AL East in Baltimore a week ago with a 15-2 humiliation of the Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. That loss had manager Buck Showalter seething afterward. It was the Orioles’ final loss of the season. They ended with two wins over Toronto and three against the Yankees.
The AL Division Series begin Thursday. Tonight, it’s the National League wild card game. The matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, which has been assumed for weeks, has more than a little attraction for Orioles fans.
Jake Arrieta, who the Orioles traded for Feldman, starts for Chicago. Arrieta won 22 games for the Cubs, including a no-hitter against the Dodgers, and a one-hit, seven inning performance at Wrigley Field 10 days ago.
Many Orioles fans have warm feelings for Arrieta, who failed to live up to his promise here, and for lack of a team to root for in the playoffs, will be pulling for him.
Tommy Hunter, a very popular Oriole for four years, is with the Cubs, too. So is Jason Hammel, who was acquired from Colorado for Guthrie. Hammel won key games for the Orioles in 2012.
Pedro Strop, another well-liked reliever, who went to the Cubs along with Arrieta, is there. So is Tsuyoshi Wada, who had Tommy John surgery not long after signing a two-year contract with the Orioles.
Several players who’ve had cameos in recent Orioles history are on the Pirates roster. Travis Ishikawa, who was briefly with the team in 2013, is on hand. So is Michael Morse, who finished up 2013 in Baltimore.
Who can forget Travis Snider, who was supposed to replace Nick Markakis in right field? Snider was a huge disappointment before the Orioles let him go in August. The Pirates picked him up, and he played 18 games.
Pedro Florimon, a once highly touted Orioles prospect who played four games in 2011, played for Pittsburgh this year. So did Steve Lombardozzi, who was on the roster in 2014 while Manny Machado rehabbed. Lombardozzi was hitless in 10 at-bats.
The Orioles see a lot of the Pirates in spring training. The teams’ spring training headquarters are about 20 minutes apart.
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