KANSAS CITY, MO. — With the Orioles on the brink of elimination, the American League Championship Series took a bizarre turn when a player called a news conference before Wednesday's Game 4 so he could apologize for the T-shirt he wore while talking to the media the night before.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, who pitched five seasons with the Orioles, wanted to speak to the media Wednesday to apologize for wearing a T-shirt that said, "These O's ain't Royal," after Kansas City's 2-1 win in Game 3. The saying is a play on the chorus of the hip-hop song, "Loyal," by Chris Brown.
Guthrie held the Orioles to one run in five innings Tuesday in his first career postseason start.
The shirt rubbed Orioles fans -- and apparently some of his former teammates -- the wrong way, but an impromptu news conference to make amends seemed unusual.
"I came in here with no intention of inciting anything," Guthrie said of wearing the shirt. "What ensued was not what I intended. There was no intention to call the attention to the other team, friends, and former teammates, certainly not the organization, and most definitely not their fans. … This is totally on my shoulders. I take that. That's why I wanted to call you here together and to apologize to everybody."
Postseason news conferences are televised live nationally, so Guthrie's T-shirt quickly picked up steam on social media Tuesday night. Guthrie said he also received from text messages from former Orioles teammates who were irked.
"I have very good friends on the Orioles, those who said, 'Well, I thought that was a low blow or inappropriate.' … I apologized and they accepted."
Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who was the only Orioles player available before the game because he's the scheduled next-day starter, said he didn't reach out to Guthrie, but he received a text from him apologizing.
"I haven't had the chance to text him back," Tillman said. "I've got to focus on the start tomorrow. We might have time to worry about that, but not right now.
"As far as I'm concerned, [and] I think our clubhouse is concerned, we can only control what happens in our clubhouse and our dugout. That's all we're worried about. We've got more important things to worry about than the fashion of another team. I think we've got to focus on winning, and that's first and foremost right now."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter called the entire situation "inconsequential" to what's occurring on the field. The Orioles trail the series 3-0 and are one game away from elimination.
The Orioles have bit their tongues as Royals reserve outfielder Jarrod Dyson has launched a war of words over the past several days. Before Game 3, he said, "There are some people ready to go home," if the Orioles fell behind 3-0.
"I'm not going to categorize it," Showalter said. "It's not a topic of conversation. ... You can respond by winning a game. … It's not bragging if you can back it up. But they're good. They're a good team. You hate to have anything like that take away from the essence of the competition and really how good they are. We don't need any extra motivation. We already have enough."
After Game 3, Dyson said Ryan Flaherty kneed him in the shoulder on an attempted pick off at third base.
"We're trying to get an out there regardless of who is on base," Showalter said.
Other items of note:
-- Delmon Young will get his first start of the series, batting fifth as the designated hitter against Royals left-hander Jason Vargas. Young is 7-for-18 against Vargas in his career, hitting .389/.421/.389 against him.
-- Even though Tillman is scheduled to start Game 5, Showalter said he won't shy away from using him if needed today in the bullpen. Showalter also said right-hander Bud Norris would also be available.
Here are the starting lineups for Game 4:
Nick Markakis RF
Steve Pearce 1B
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Delmon Young LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Caleb Joseph C
Ryan Flaherty 3B
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Miguel Gonzalez RHP
Alcides Escobar SS
Nori Aoki RF
Lorenzo Cain CF
Eric Hosmer 1B
Billy Butler DH
Alex Gordon LF
Salvador Perez C
Omar Infante 2B
Mike Moustakas 3B
Jason Vargas LHP