Orioles prepping for Rangers in ALDS (López becomes free agent)

The Orioles know which team to prepare for, the opponent that dictates how their roster is constructed in the American League Division Series.

No other reasons to wait. The Rangers eliminated the Rays in the wild card round by a combined score of 11-1. The matchup is set.

The teams split six games this season, with Texas taking two of three at Camden Yards in May, including a 12-2 victory in the series opener. The Rangers were the Orioles' first road opponent and lost twice.

Jacob deGrom prevented a sweep with one earned run and 11 strikeouts in six innings, but he hasn’t pitched since April 28 and underwent Tommy John surgery two months later. Austin Voth was charged with the loss after relieving Grayson Rodriguez and allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings, but he isn’t with the club.

Hardly worth mentioning, I suppose, but there it is.

The most memorable part of that series was Kyle Bradish lasting only 1 2/3 innings in his 2023 debut on April 3 before Jonah Heim’s line drive slammed off his right foot and forced him on the injured list. Tyler Wells tossed five scoreless and hitless relief innings in a 2-0 victory.

So typical of this team, overcoming adversity and finding ways to win. Someone else stepping up each night. We just didn't know the depths of it at the time.

The ALDS is a rematch of the inaugural 2012 wild card game in Arlington, won by the Orioles 5-1 with Joe Saunders starting. Steve Johnson was warming in the first inning. Yu Darvish was starting for the other team.

A magical season, for sure, with the Orioles in the playoffs after a 14-year absence.

The Rangers don’t have deGrom or Max Scherzer, who’s also hurt, but their offense led the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, walks and runs, and tied the Twins for most home runs. Corey Seager will get Most Valuable Player votes. Gunnar Henderson will get more comparisons to him.

If you’re an Orioles fan, I wouldn’t exhale because you avoided the Rays.

Manager Brandon Hyde was asked at yesterday’s workout whether it’s stressful waiting for Game 1.

“You’re anxious, you’re anticipating,” he said. “I’m enjoying watching the games and watched all of them yesterday and last night. It’s cool for these guys. A lot of these guys have never been in the postseason before, so, for them to have this feeling, I know they’re excited about this weekend.”

If all goes well, the Orioles could be competing into the first week of November.

“The adrenaline really picks up and the energy in the ballpark, but you’re playing for a full month after,” Hyde said. “Pitchers innings, those types of things come into play. If you’re a minor league player, up until this year or the year before was a five-month season and then big leagues is a six-month season, and then you go postseason all the way, it’s a seven-month season. But there will be so much intensity in those games and there will be so much energy in the ballpark that guys won’t even think about it.”

Hyde said he plans on talking to former manager Joe Maddon, who remains a close friend, about leading a team in the playoffs. Hyde was on the Cubs’ coaching staff during their postseason run and 2016 World Series title, but now he’s the guy in charge. He’s also exchanged messages with some other managers.

“A lot of them said ‘congratulations’ and some really nice things,” Hyde said. “I have been in the postseason four years in a row and so I do understand what it’s like. Never managed a game in it, but looking forward to it.

“I’ve been in the postseason, but I haven’t run the game, and so from bullpen decisions to the conversations I’m in with Mike (Elias) right now about our rotation, our roster, those type of things, I’m really enjoying it. It’s a lot of fun putting together this postseason roster. I’m very anxious to start. This is why you do this for six months, and to have this opportunity with this group, a special, great character group of guys, it’s been a lot of fun managing this year and hoping we’ll play for a while.”

Hyde thinks his players are ready for it despite the limited postseason experience.

“I think a lot of these guys have played in big games, maybe not at this stage, but playing in the College World Series, playing in those types of games, those things all add up,” Hyde said. “There’s still pressure, you still feel pressure to play, and I think our guys are going to rise to the occasion.”

* Triple-A Norfolk’s Buck Britton was named International League Manager of the Year by Minor League Baseball, and outfielder Colton Cowser was chosen to the All-Star team.

Britton guided the Tides to the Triple-A championship after they won a franchise-record 90 games. They claimed their first IL crown since 1985.

Cowser appeared in 87 games and batted .300 with a .937 OPS, 18 doubles, a triple, 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.

* Norfolk corner infielder Josh Lester has filed for minor league free agency.

Lester had 21 doubles, 23 home runs and 87 RBIs in 110 games. He also picked up his first four major league hits and RBI with the Orioles this summer.

Updates: Game 2 on Sunday begins at 4:07 p.m. at Camden Yards.

Both games this weekend can be found on FS1.

Game 3 in Arlington is Tuesday night at 8:03 p.m. on FOX.

Jorge López cleared waivers and elected free agency over a Triple-A assignment.

The Orioles designated López for assignment over the weekend. He wasn't eligible for the postseason roster.


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