Could O's fans be getting behind this team in playoffs?

When the Orioles made the American League playoffs in 2012, they ended a 14-season drought with no playoff baseball. On Sunday, the San Diego Padres clinched their first playoff berth since 2006. That ends a run of nine consecutive losing seasons and 13 straight seasons without seeing the postseason.

O's fans can relate to how Padres fans must feel this year, ending the long postseason drought. Sadly for them, it comes at a time when they can't even go to beautiful Petco Park to watch their team shine.

And they have been shining indeed. San Diego's 34-20 record is second-best in their division only because of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball. San Diego has the second-best record in the National League and fourth-best in the majors.

Kirby-Hatless-White-sidebar.jpgAnd there are reasons that the Padres might provide a bit of a rooting interest for Orioles fans starting next week in the playoffs. The long drought is one reason. But two key players on the team are third baseman Manny Machado and right-handed starter Zach Davies, who are both original Orioles. Beyond that, former O's coach Bobby Dickerson is manager Jayce Tingler's bench coach. And former O's coach Wayne Kirby is the Padres' first base coach. Wonder if "Cooking with Kirby" has made its West Coast debut? Beyond that, former Oriole Ryan Flaherty has the long title of major league advance scout/development coach for San Diego. Yes, "Flash" is in San Diego, too.

Quite a few connections separated only by about 3,000 miles.

Machado was batting .200 on Aug. 17, but has been on a tear since. Over his last 30 games he's batting .402/.431/.752 with 11 homers, 33 RBIs and an OPS of 1.183. For the year, he is batting .314/.376/.604. And his .980 OPS is his best since he posted a .963 OPS with the 2018 Orioles. The year, they would trade him to the Dodgers for a package of players that included Dean Kremer and Yusniel Diaz.

Machado is an MVP candidate and even though 21-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is the emerging superstar on that team, his OPS of .931 is well behind Machado. But they sure make for a pretty great left side of the infield.

Former O's scouting director Joe Jordan drafted Davies in the 26th round in 2011 and knew he would need a big overslot bonus to keep him from attending Arizona State. I can remember Jordan telling me about this skinny kid that didn't throw very hard, but had an advanced changeup and really knew how to pitch. The O's signed him for $575,000.

Davies would pitch very well on the O's farm, but never made it to Baltimore. On July 31, 2015, with the defending AL East champion Orioles, six games out of first place and slumping on offense, they traded Davies to Milwaukee for outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Parra was supposed to pump life into the offense. He was batting .328 and had hit .435 that July. But then Parra stopped hitting about the minute he set foot in the O's clubhouse. He was a bust here, batting .237. After the season, he signed a three-year deal worth $26 million with Colorado.

In hindsight, that was a real bad deal for the Orioles. The skinny kid had an ERA of 2.84 at Triple-A at the time of the deal. The previous fall, he had gone 3-0 with a 1.75 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. Davies went on to pitch well for Milwaukee. This season for the Padres, he is 7-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 10 starts.

So there sure are reasons for O's fans to check in on the Padres when the playoffs begin next week. San Diego looks locked into the No. 4 seed in the NL. That means if they get by their first-round series (currently Miami), they'll have to then get past the Dodgers.

It should be fun to watch a new team in the postseason. It's one that just might be ready to make a deep run. Maybe some throughout Birdland will be watching.

Final trip begins: When play began in the majors Monday, the O's team ERA of 4.36 ranked eighth-best in the American League. The seven teams in front of them all look likely to make the playoffs. So they are keeping better company and we've recently discussed the improved pitching here.

If the O's dormant offense can come to life in this final week, it would be fun to see what the club can look like if it gets quality pitching and hitting at the same time. In the last 12 games, the Orioles have scored one run or less eight times. They have scored 34 runs in this stretch, getting 14 of them in one game. The team is batting .198 in this span.

Let's see if some of that can come together this week as the O's play their final two series on the road against Boston and Toronto.

Trey's big day: Congratulations to the Orioles' Trey Mancini, who completed his chemotherapy treatments on Monday. What a day for the Orioles and they didn't even play. They did send him a nice gift, which as you can see, clearly made him emotional.

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