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Orioles' Hyun Soo Kim has become a semi-fixture in left field

Orioles' Hyun Soo Kim has become a semi-fixture in left field

A year ago, no one in Birdland knew who Hyun Soo Kim was. Now, he’s a fixture in left field — against right-handed pitchers, of course. 

The Orioles signed the South Korean outfielder to a two-year, $7 million contract in December 2015, hoping he’d diversify their offense, and after many early uncomfortable stretches, he did. 

Kim began spring training horribly, going hitless in his first 23 at-bats. He looked lost at the plate and slow in the outfield. 

In the last week of spring training, Kim and his interpreter, Danny Lee sat with manager Buck Showalter as he was advised to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. 

Kim refused, as was his contractual right, and Showalter tried another talk, this time with Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette. Again, Kim declined. 

He began the season on the roster and his introduction on Opening Day was accompanied by boos, but Showalter said that if Kim was on the team he was going to play. 

Kim played sparingly in the first month, starting four times, but he hit well when called upon, batting .600 (9-for-15). 

He played more often in May and late in the month started six straight times and hit his first home run. 

From then on, Kim played regularly against right-handed pitchers and almost never against lefties. 

He ended the season with a .302 average and .382 on-base percentage in 95 games. 

Kim batted .321 against right-handers but failed to hit in 17 at-bats against left-handers. 

He did slow down late in the season and hit only .235 after September 1. 

In the season’s final weeks, Michael Bourn got playing time at Kim’s expense, but on September 28, he did deliver one of the season’s biggest hits, a two-run pinch-hit home run in Toronto. 

Kim is likely to get more at-bats against left-handers next season, and it won’t matter which batting group he’ll hit with next spring training. He did try to impress some of the Orioles’ big hitters during early batting practice, and that set him back. 

He was accepted so easily that the boos were quickly forgotten and a Kim T-shirt in Korean was a popular late-season giveaway. 

In the wild-card game, a fan threw a beer can in Kim’s direction as he tried to catch a fly ball. Adam Jones quickly came to his defense jawing with the Rogers Centre fan in an attempt to find the miscreant. 

As the Orioles head into 2017, they may try to find a new platoon partner for Kim, but their hope is that Kim minimizes that right-handed hitters’ playing time.

RELATED: Former Orioles help beat another ex-Bird in NLCS

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0