BALTIMORE -- One year ago Friday in an epic Game 162, the Orioles recorded a 4-3 walk-off victory vs. the Red Sox and the Rays pulled out a stunning come-from-behind win against the Yankees to punch their playoff ticket and end Boston's season.
"End of season like this, [to] make Boston go home sad, crying, I'll take it all day," said second baseman Robert Andino, who drove home the game-winning run.
This year, the Orioles have a magic number of four to clinch an American League Wild Card spot and the Red Sox in the spoiler role. So did playing those intense games last September help his club prepare for this season's homestretch? Manager Buck Showalter wasn't sure.
"I can't say it didn't help," Showalter said. "It does. You create your own intensity, and this is a self-starter group. ... I think, once again, we fed off the emotions of our fans, too. We kind of fed off of them, and as much as we talked about the integrity of the schedule and the competition and how people -- not only your fans, but other clubs -- depend on you to put together [a representative lineup]."
The Orioles went 15-13 last September and Showalter preached accountability and exceeded expectation this spring, a mantra that has helped the gritty club play to an 89-67 record entering Friday, one game behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
"[Showalter] obviously believes in us and I think that was evident at the end of last season," outfielder Chris Davis said. "We weren't playing for anything, but it still meant a lot to us to go out there and be able to win. And I think he appreciated that we played hard all the way to the end of the season, and it showed up this year."