The Orioles’ improbable season marches on

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For most of the regular season, the surprising success of the Orioles was downplayed because of a negative run-differential and their penchant for winning one-run and extra-inning games. Going into tonight’s Wild Card game against the Rangers, most prognosticators didn’t give the Orioles much of a chance because they were using left-hander Joe Saunders against a lineup stacked with right-handed hitters in a venue whether he had fared poorly during his career. However, consistent with everything they did during the regular season, the Orioles just keep defying expectations.

The Orioles topped the Rangers 5-1 tonight in Arlington for their first playoff win since Game 5 of the 1997 ALCS. They’ll now advance to take on the Yankees in the ALDS beginning Sunday at Camden Yards. Yes, there will be playoff baseball in Baltimore. And that’s pretty cool.

We have seen an unlikely cast of characters play important roles for the Orioles this season and the same was the case tonight. Joe Saunders, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in August, tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Nate McLouth, who was signed to a minor league deal in June after being released by the Pirates, had an RBI single in the seventh inning and a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Darren O’Day, who was claimed off waivers from the Rangers last November, tossed two innings of scoreless relief. Manny Machado, a 20-year-old who made his major league debut in August, had an RBI single in the top of the ninth to provide some extra insurance for the bullpen. Just another exercise in “Oriole Magic.”

The Orioles have a pretty tough task ahead of them against the playoff-tested Yankees, who will have CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte waiting for them. As such, they aren’t going to shed that underdog label anytime soon. But you know what? They’ve worn it well so far.

Luis Urías to miss six to eight weeks with fractured hamate bone

Luis Urías
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Robert Murray reports that Brewers infielder Luis Urías underwent surgery to repair a fractured left hamate bone, suffered during a game in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. The club expects him to miss six to eight weeks, which likely means he will not start the regular season on time.

The Brewers acquired Urías from the Padres along with pitcher Eric Lauer in late November in exchange for pitcher Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham.

Last season with the Padres, Urías hit .223/.329/.326 across 249 plate appearances. While his offense isn’t anything to write home about, he does play above-average defense with the ability to play several positions.

Urías was slated to be the regular shortstop, so his late start likely means Orlando Arcia will get another chance to prove himself. Arcia has failed to live up to expectations across four seasons in the big leagues thus far.