Matt Wieters admitted today, he was not sure what he would see or feel when he walked into the Orioles clubhouse last night. How would the team react after such a difficult ninth inning? Was the clubhouse the same as it had been all year?
“It actually was,” Wieters said at a press conference this afternoon at Camden Yards. “I haven’t experienced a playoff loss before, so you don’t really know what to expect when you get back in the clubhouse but everybody was (like), ‘It’s one game,’ and that was the attitude about it. We all came back ready to go today with not much of a memory of what happened last night and just ready to get a win today.”
The Orioles have scored just 12 runs with a .170 team batting over the last five games. In two playoff games, Wieters and Adam Jones are a combined 0-for-15. A reporter asked Wieters today if he and Jones have to be the focal point of the offense.
“I don’t think we do at all,” Wieters said. “I think that is kind of what made this team get where it is this year, that we know that we need to have different guys step up every night and drive in runs. The big thing is we just need everybody to play to their ability and not worry about where you are hitting in the lineup or what your stats are. It may not be the gaudiest numbers for this team, but when you step up in the right situation, that is how we are able to get wins.”
On the mound tonight, the Orioles turn to lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who is 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA over 32 starts and 192 2/3 innings. Despite the language barrier, the Orioles have come to know Chen well this year, Wieters said, both on and off the field.
“In spring training you could see what kind of work habits he had and how he went about his business,” Wieters said. “You could see that he was working for a long career. He was going to try and improve and work hard to get as good as he can.
“Wei-Yin is a fun, light-hearted guy in the clubhouse, but when it comes to his day to start, he’s focused and ready to go. The language barrier is something we’ve had to deal with. But his competitive spirit and the way he likes to compete puts us past any language (issues).”
Wieters has had the chance to find out over these past two games how playoff baseball may differ from a regular season game.
“You can feel the crowd, that is for sure,” he said. “The main thing is, the first couple of innings you have to dial yourself down a little bit and once the game settles in, you can really make it feel like as close to a normal game as you can expect in the postseason.”
Wieters was asked about the O’s future. Is this team built to last now that it is a winner again?
“We think so,” he said. “A lot of these guys in this clubhouse came up together through the system. We’ve been able to see each other’s games improve and develop. A lot of us had to develop at the big league level even and be able to pick up our game the last couple years. That is why we are where we are. You can look at the pitchers that had to fill different roles from what they had coming up through the minors that helped us get here this year.”