KANSAS CITY - The Orioles don’t give the appearance of a team that’s uptight or in panic mode after losing the first two games of the American League Championship Series.
Manager Buck Showalter talked college football, specifically Mississippi State being ranked No. 1, and tossed in a few quips to entertain and amuse the media. Players sat in front of televisions in the visiting clubhouse and watched NFL games, with Maine native Ryan Flaherty taking abuse anytime Patriots quarterback Tom Brady failed to complete a pass.
A vibrating chair even provided comic relief.
Asked to rate his confidence in the bullpen, center fielder Adam Jones said, “I think it’s 1 to 10, probably about a 15.” He’s using the same scale for every facet of the club.
“We’re a confident team,” said reliever Darren O’Day. “Part of our game is playing hard. I feel like we’re in every one to win every one. We’ve got to win some games. That’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter who’s hurt or who’s not playing or who’s hitting or who’s pitching. We’ve just got to win.”
This attitude may come as news to Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who caused a bit of a stir last night.
Asked if he expected to return to Baltimore, where the Royals took a 2-0 lead in games, Dyson replied, “No sir, I don’t. And I don’t think they think that, either.”
“No reaction at all,” said catcher Nick Hundley, a smile creasing his face. “If we’re worried about what one of their guys has to say, we’re not focused on our business. They can talk, they can do whatever they want to do. And that’s kind of their M.O. is to talk and try to be loud and do that stuff, but our M.O. is to go out and play the game.”
O’Day chuckled when Dyson’s comment was relayed to him.
“No, I didn’t hear that. That’s interesting,” O’Day said. “We’ll see. I think we’ve had pretty good success here. I know we’re not really shaking in our boots right now. We’re ready to play baseball.”
O’Day said the Orioles don’t need additional motivation.
“We all know what we’re playing for,” he said. “Whatever he wants to say, he can say. We’re going to do it our way and do what we have to do.”
Dyson, by the way, didn’t back down from his comments while talking to a group of reporters in the Royals clubhouse this afternoon.
“If we win Game 3, it’s going to be hard for them to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘We can win the next four,’ ” he said.
The Orioles are no strangers to adversity. Being down 0-2 doesn’t have them doubting their chances of advancing to the World Series.
“They’re just taking advantage of opportunities more so than we are,” O’Day said. “When you get down to these last few teams, they’re all good teams, so whoever blinks first is going to lose. We’ve got to start putting it to them a little bit.”
O’Day said it wasn’t necessary for players to call a meeting following Game 2. There’s no need to remind everyone what’s at stake and what has to be done.
“It’s a really professional team,” O’Day said. “Guys know what to do and we all individually have our own plans to do it.”
O’Day has been tagged with both losses, though the tiebreaking run scored in the ninth inning last night after an infield hit. O’Day was back in the dugout when Zach Britton allowed the inherited runner to score.
“It’s just the way it goes with the way the bullpens work,” O’Day said. “I don’t care that my name is next to the loss. Obviously, I don’t want to be associated with losing, but it’s just the way it happens. You put a lot of trust in your bullpen mates and sometimes it’s going to work out and sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Orioles still believe it’s going to work out for them, that they’re coming back to Baltimore to do more than just clean out their lockers and say their goodbyes.
“We’ve battled all year. We’ve fought through a lot, been through a lot, won a lot of games,” Hundley said. “There’s no panic in here. We’re excited about the opportunity.”