Baltimore Sun's sports columnist Peter Schmuck on the Orioles rises to the playoffs. He talks about the one game playoff with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Baltimore Sun video)
Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo just completed the best regular season of his career, leading the major leagues with 47 homers. And now, after playing parts of seven big-league seasons with four different clubs, Trumbo is in the postseason for the first time in his career.
Trumbo said he's waited a long time for the type of playoff-clinching celebration the Orioles enjoyed in New York on Sunday following their 5-2 win over the Yankees.
"In previous years playing, I've watched quite a few teams celebrate, and you really hope at some point — or at least I did — that you'd be a part of something like this," Trumbo said with a smile. "I think the feeling [celebrating a wild card berth] was validating. It makes sense why guys get so pumped up to get to this point, especially after putting in all the work throughout the year. You want to get rewarded. You want to be on a good team that can do some damage."
Much like Nelson Cruz did in 2014, Trumbo — acquired from the Mariners in the offseason for backup catcher Steve Clevenger — had his best offensive year in the middle of the Orioles lineup and emerged as a power bat that could change the game with one swing.
Even though Trumbo's production slowed in the second half — as did the Orioles' offense as a whole — his contributions to the team went beyond his power numbers.
"This means a lot to Mark," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He may not be crowing about it, but that's not his nature."
Wieters, Machado embrace return playoff trip after missing 2014 postseason: Injuries kept catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado out of the postseason the last time the Orioles went two years ago, so being a big part of the team's trip to the playoffs has been rewarding for both.
Wieters was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2014, and Machado had season-ending right knee surgery in August that year.
"To be able to get back with this team makes it that much [more] special," Wieters said. "And to see the transformation from when I first got drafted and first came up to what we've become now as a team and an organization — it's something that all the players have taken a lot pride in, so to be able to get back and be healthy and try to contribute, I'll consider that a lot more special."
Said Machado: "It's just like the first time in the playoffs — you have to enjoy every moment because you never know when you're going to get back because it's that hard. I'm enjoying it as much as I can."
First baseman Chris Davis also missed the 2014 postseason serving a 25-game suspension for using Adderall without a therapeutic use exemption.
Blue Jays turn to Stroman: Toronto manager John Gibbons' decision to start right-hander Marcus Stroman in Tuesday's wild-card game was a peculiar one, especially given how well left-hander Francisco Liriano threw against the Orioles on Wednesday (6 1/3 shutout innings) and the way the Orioles have struggled against lefties.
The Orioles are 23-23 against left-handed starters this season, but their .692 OPS against lefties ranks last in the American League.
Stroman, who is 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA, allowed four runs on nine hits over seven innings Thursday against the Orioles in Toronto. He is 2-3 with a 5.07 ERA in seven career outings (six starts) against the Orioles. He is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in three starts against Baltimore this season.
The Orioles handed Stroman his shortest start of the season on June 19, pounding him for seven runs on 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings in an 11-6 Orioles win at Camden Yards. In two starts against the Orioles at Rogers Centre, Stroman is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA.
"It's a one-game shot," Gibbons said. "Your guys are just going out there and competing. Because you might have some of your better offensive players facing it, and whoever's pitching for the other side and not have very good numbers. But are you going to sit them too? … Some guys rise to the occasion. I've seen Stro do that many, many times. I think he's the perfect guy."
Around the horn: Major League Baseball announced start times for all four division series through this weekend. If the Orioles beat Toronto on Tuesday, they would open the ALDS in Texas, playing Game 1 at 4:38 p.m. on Thursday, and Game 2 at 1:08 p.m. on Friday. They would then play Game 3 on Sunday at Camden Yards at 7:38 p.m., which would avoid interfering with Ravens' 1 p.m. home game. …The umpirers for Tuesday's game will be Gary Cederstrom behind home plate, Ted Barrett at first, Eric Cooper at second, Bill Welke at third, David Rackley in left and Will Little in right.