Orioles look to next year after sensational season

Associated Press Published: October 13, 2012
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For once, the Orioles had depth. It didn't matter that Baltimore lost three leadoff hitters to injury — Brian Roberts, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis — because McLouth was there to step in. And when left-handed reliever Troy Patton went on the disabled list with an ankle injury, converted starter Brian Matusz stepped in to fill the void.

Matusz, Machado and All-Star catcher Matt Wieters are among several players to emerge from the Orioles' oft-maligned farm system. That group includes top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who got his first taste of major league ball in the middle of a pennant race.

"It's something where a lot of these guys in the clubhouse came up together through the system, and we've been able to see each other's games sort of improve and develop," Wieters said. "A lot of us have had to develop at the big league level, and we really picked up our game the last couple years. That's why we are where we are."

Jim Johnson led the majors with 51 saves and was a big reason why Baltimore went 29-9 in one-run games. Few other Orioles were listed among the league leaders, and it didn't matter because no one had to carry the burden of producing in every game.

"We know we're going to have different guys step up every night and be able to drive in runs," Wieters said. "The big thing is that we just want everybody to sort of play to their ability and not worry about where you're hitting in the lineup or what your stats are."

Given what happened in the 14 years leading up to this one, there might be reason to believe this season was nothing more than a quirky stroke of luck.

"There are no flukes in baseball. There are no Cinderellas," Showalter insisted. "You play too many games."

The 2012 Orioles played more games than usual, all the way into the second week of October. They hope to play even longer next year.

"I'm proud of the effort of the whole organization," Duquette said. "We took some great strides forward. We're a first-division outfit."