The Baltimore Orioles looked relaxed during warmups Monday. The occasional dropped ball more often met with a grin than squirm – no indication of a team that had lost 7-2 on the previous night.
Sunday's 7-2 loss in the AL division playoff series opener to the New York Yankees seemed to fit the theme of this year's season for the Orioles. They've managed to come back in games that spelled certain loss, pull out wins in close games and push tough contests into extra innings. Players and coaches have been blunt, saying often that no one expected them to make it to the playoffs.
Now, down by one game in the best-of-five series, the team that has accomplished much when the odds were against them, did, seem comfortable.
The reason? Manager Buck Showalter says it's because despite criticism of the Orioles' season, his team knows it belongs in the playoffs and knows it is capable of competing .
"Obviously, the sense of urgency changes a little bit because of the math of the series. Our guys know that, and they don't – it's not something you dwell on," Showalter said before the start of Monday's game. "…There's no flukes in baseball. There's no Cinderellas. You play too many games. You play 162 games."
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters echoed Showalter's statements Monday.
Wieters has built himself into arguably one of the top three catchers in Major League Baseball, and in Oriole Park often draws cheers of "Don't run on Wieters!" Showalter has credited him as being a confident catcher that has helped develop a young pitching staff.
Wieters is also a guy that since spring training has expressed confidence in the team.
"It was not a this is what we think this team can do this year. It was we believed it and believed that if we go out there and just keep playing, no matter what your record is, no matter how many games you've won or lost lately, you've got a chance to win that night," Wieters said.
The Orioles will be looking to ink out a win at home Monday night as their next few games in the series will all be played in New York.
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