The Royals were coming off their first World Series appearance in decades and clearly were more focused on taking another step forward rather than just trying to get back to the playoffs with the same team.
If Wednesday¿s ALDS Game 5 outcomes were any indicator, this year¿s American League Championship Series should be an entertaining one, but watching the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays play for a ticket to the World Series has to make more Orioles fans gag.
It is a simple enough matter to break down the past season and find all the reasons why the Orioles did not score enough runs — or distribute them more evenly — to deliver their fans a fourth consecutive winning season. The Orioles offense was consistently inconsistent because it was not built with enough versatility and connectivity to overcome the predictable ebb and flow of a free-swinging lineup with an inordinate dependence on the home run.
Astronaut Terry Virts could only take a few items on his mission into outer space, but among those items was an Orioles jersey that he presented to manager Buck Showalter before Monday night¿s game against the Boston Red Sox.
In a 14-8 comeback victory over the Royals on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 45,420 at Camden Yards, it was as if the Orioles finally released some long-festering frustration on baseball's best bullpen.
Monday night's series opener ended in an all-too-familiar way, with the Orioles squandering another lead, falling victim to a nightmare seven-run sixth inning in an 8-3 loss to the Royals in front of an announced 27,797 at Kauffman Stadium.
The Orioles made a flurry of roster moves on Monday afternoon before their Thursday¿s series opener against the Kansas City Royals, among them designating veteran outfielder Nolan Reimold for assignment.
The Orioles' acquisition of outfielder Gerardo Parra in Friday's trade-deadline deal with the Milwaukee Brewers marked the end of Bud Norris' time with the team. The Orioles designated the veteran right-hander for assignment shortly after announcing the Parra trade, parting ways with a key piece of their 2014 rotation.
For seven years, he kept the Orioles winning, the crowds happy and the media scratching their heads. Signed for the $20,000 waiver price from the Texas Rangers, John Lowenstein brought left-handed power and a role-playing persona, plus a cockeyed look at baseball — and life.
The New York Yankees arrived in Baltimore this week atop the American League East, still challenging the popular notion that they are an over-the-hill gang of overpaid players who are a couple of sore hamstrings away from crashing back to earth. Certainly, there are some players in those pinstripes whose odometers could roll over at any time, but the Yankees have proved through the years that it's a dangerous business to underestimate them.
Nelson Cruz has triumphantly returned to Baltimore and it's pretty hard to make a case at the moment that the Orioles did the right thing letting him walk over the one extra year he got from the Seattle Mariners. Whether they did won't be known a while, but the team's fans rightfully appreciated last year's Most Valuable Oriole.
Placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis Friday, right-hander Kevin Gausman won't know how long he will be out until he sees team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs on Monday. But when he does return to the mound, it will likely be as a starter for Triple-A Norfolk.
The windfall of last season's memorable playoff push was evident Wednesday as the Orioles said rising ticket demand means that not all multiple-game plan holders will be guaranteed seats for opening day.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has done his best to sidestep talk about his uncertain contract situation beyond this season, but he said Monday that his long-term future with the team may depend on the long-term outlook for it.
If shortstop J.J. Hardy had not spent most of the 2014 season trying to play through a painful back injury that forced him to alter his swing and trade power for playing time, would he have bypassed free agency for the three-year, $40 million contract he signed right in the middle of the Orioles' postseason run?
When he was introduced for the first panel of the day — a question-and-answer session for season-ticket holders — Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Duquette took the stage to a warm reception and partial standing ovation.
Amid an offseason of player departures from the Orioles, Matt Wieters and Manny Machado said they were healthy and ready to return to the field in spring training after injuries cut their seasons short in 2014.
The Ravens can talk all they want about the clean slate they earned with Sunday¿s 20-10 comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns, but they¿ll need more than an eraser to get past the late-season problems that made Week 17 so suspenseful.
With the sudden loss of three major pieces from a team that won the Orioles' first division title in 17 years and advanced to the American League Championship Series, manager Buck Showalter realizes he has work to do to duplicate this past season's success.