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.

Robert Gsellman diagnosed with partial lat tear

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SNY’s Andy Martino reports that Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman has been diagnosed with a partial lat tear. There is no timetable yet for his recovery, but it would seem likely he doesn’t pitch again this season.

Gsellman, 26, went on the injured list on Saturday (retroactive to August 14) with what was initially called right triceps tightness. Across 63 2/3 innings of relief for the Mets this season, the right-hander posted a 4.66 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 23 walks.

Losing Gsellman is a big deal for the Wild Card-hopeful Mets. While his ERA wasn’t anything incredible, he was a workhorse, accruing the most innings of anyone in the bullpen. With Gsellman out of the mix, the Mets will lean even more on Seth Lugo and Jeurys Familia behind struggling closer Edwin Díaz.