The Birdhouse posted on March 26 about Pearce and the possibility of him cracking the roster after Wilson Betemit left a Spring Training game against Boston with a knee injury. Pearce did indeed beat out Conor Jackson for that bench spot.
The Orioles and Rays kick off the season tomorrow with a 3 p.m. first pitch at Tropicana Field. Hammel gets the Opening Day start for the O’s and he will match up against David Price.
“We have some things we can build on, because we had a good year last year, but this is 2013,” Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said. “This is a new group of players. This is a new season. We have new challenges. This is effectively a new team, but I can tell you this: The consistency of the leadership from the manager and the work ethic of the players instilled last year, that should carry over.”
The opening lyric of “Orioles Magic,” what has been the Orioles’ anthem for over 40 years, definitely applied to the 2012 Baltimore Orioles. Last season’s Orioles team defied all odds by staying competitive in, what is usually deemed Major League Baseball’s toughest division, the American League East, with a negative run differential for most of the season, a 20th ranked team batting average, and an 14th ranked team ERA.
“Left-handers Brian Matsuz and Zach Britton make major strides before the team is crushed under the weight of a powerful division. For the sixth straight year, Baltimore fails to win 70 games; for the 15th straight year, the team has a losing record. Yes, this is the best-case scenario.”
That wasn’t the case.
The Orioles stayed competitive by winning close games. The team posted a 29-9 record in one-run games. The .763 win percentage to go along with it was the third best in MLB history, trailing only teams from the late-1800’s. Baltimore was 16-2 in extra-inning games, all of those wins were consecutive. The MLB record for such a streak — the 1949 Cleveland Indians won 17.
Baltimore finished second in the AL East, trailing the New York Yankees by just 2 games. Their team record of 93-69 was the best record posted by the franchise since their last playoff appearance in 1997. The O’s were participants in MLB’s newly-expanded playoffs. In the first wild card playoff, the Orioles traveled to Arlington, Texas to face the back-to-back defending American League champion Texas Rangers.
Behind a gutsy pitching performance by Joe Saunders and the Oriole bullpen, the O’s defeated the Rangers 5-1 and advanced to the American League Division Series for the first time since that ’97 playoff run. In the ALDS, the Orioles met the Bronx Bombers and eventually bowed out after a five-game series.