"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Pushing toward playoffs

Greater Baltimore still stings a little since Sunday, when the Ravens took one on the chin in Buffalo, but now our region's sports fans can turn their full attention to the approach of spring training, whenever it actually is to start. Assessing the status of the Orioles rebuilding project should prove interesting.

Meanwhile, we can take a look at the not-too-distant past to remind ourselves what a contending O's squad looks like. The Birds enjoyed a resurgance in the mid-2010s, making the playoffs three times in a five-year span and reaching the American League Championship Series in 2014. That period provides the focal point for this week's "Orioles Classics" offerings.

You'll see the O's vanquish division rivals with pitching, defense and timely hitting as they plow their way to the postseason.

Cure yourself of winter doldrums with a mug of something hot and a set tuned to MASN for "Orioles Classics."

Friday, Jan. 22 - 6 p.m. - Battling the Yankees for the division crown in the final month of the season, the O's opened a four-game series with the Bronx Bombers at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 2012. The Birds appeared to have things well in hand until the eighth inning, when the Yanks batted around to erase a five-run deficit. But the O's enjoyed an offensive outburst of their own in the bottom half, scoring four on homers from Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis in a 10-6 victory that deadlocked the lead for the American League East.

Saturday, Jan. 23 - 2 p.m. - Jones engaged in more late-inning heroics on Aug. 13, 2014 during the Orioles' gallop toward the AL East title. With the O's down a run in the eighth, Jonathan Schoop chased Dellin Betances with a solo homer. Nick Markakis then singled and Davis drew a base on balls against Shawn Kelley. With two out, Jones drove one over the wall in left center, leading the O's to a 5-3 win.

Monday, Jan. 25 - 6 p.m - Pies for everybody! Never above a bit of slapstick, the Orioles were more than happy to apply pastry to some faces on Sept. 16, 2014 in celebration of the Birds clinching their first AL East title in 17 years. Alejandro De Aza tripled with the bases loaded and Steve Pearce hit a three-run homer as the Orioles pasted the Blue Jays 8-2.

Monday, Jan. 25 - 11:59 - The Orioles overcame a two-run deficit and notched a walk-off win over the Tigers on May 31, 2013. With the O's trailing 5-3 in the ninth, Markakis led off with a homer off Detroit closer José Valverde. Jones and Davis followed with singles, but Valverde then got Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy to pop up. That brought designated hitter Chris Dickerson to the plate with two out. Valverde got behind, and with the count 2-1, Dickerson made him pay, sending the next pitch to deep right-center for an instant 7-5 victory.

Tuesday, Jan. 26 - 3 p.m. - The O's hit five homers in a 9-1 laugher against the Rays on Aug. 25, 2014. Whatever notions the visitors might have had about getting back into the game fell precipitously in the sixth, when with two aboard, Evan Longoria took a Chris Tillman fastball deep to center field (see the video below). Jones robbed Longoria of a longball, then nailed Matthew Joyce trying to reach second base after tagging at first.

Wednesday, Jan. 27 - 11:30 a.m. - The Orioles and Rays tangled for more than five hours on Sept. 13, 2012, but the O's came out on the winning end of a 3-2 final. Young Manny Machado iced the victory with a walk-off single in the 14th inning. Randy Wolf pitched a third of an inning to swoop in for the win.

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