So the Orioles are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2016. Maybe you haven’t paid attention to them and want to catch up before the first playoff game. Or you watched all year and just love them so much you want to learn more.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place. The Baltimore Banner’s beat writers, Danielle Allentuck and Andy Kostka, watched every game this season, traveling the country to report on this team. They’ve created the definitive bandwagon guide to tell you everything you need to know before the Orioles hit the field Saturday in the American League Division Series.
How the playoffs work
First, it’s important to know how the postseason format works. The Orioles won the American League East and earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the American League Championship Series. They’ll start their playoff journey in the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers, who swept the Tampa Bay Rays in two games in the wild-card round.
Here’s the schedule. Fox and FS1 will air all ALDS games. It’s a best-of-five series; first team to three wins moves on.
ALDS Game 1: Oct. 7 at Camden Yards, 1 p.m.
ALDS Game 2: Oct. 8 at Camden Yards, TBD.
ALDS Game 3: Oct. 10 at Texas, TBD.
ALDS Game 4, if needed: Oct. 11 at Texas, TBD.
ALDS Game 5, if needed: Oct. 13 at Camden Yards, TBD.
The American League Championship Series will begin Oct. 15 followed, by the World Series on Oct. 27. Both series are best-of-seven.
There are 26 players on the roster, but we won’t bore you with all their names. It’s important to know the young stars, such as infielder Gunnar Henderson and catcher Adley Rutschman. They are the new faces of the team and typically hit 1-2 at the top of the lineup.
Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Austin Hays will probably be the starting outfield. They’ve been together as the team has been rebuilt and finally get to experience the playoffs together. Ryan O’Hearn, a first baseman and designated hitter, was traded from the Royals in January for cash considerations. He didn’t make the team out of spring training. Now, he’s their top hitter.
On the pitching side, Kyle Bradish should get the ball in the first playoff game. Grayson Rodriguez — the rookie who is better than ever after spending two months in Triple-A — should be behind him in Game 2. After that, expect some combination of John Means, back after Tommy John surgery, Dean Kremer and Kyle Gibson.
In the bullpen, the Orioles will have to soldier on without closer Félix Bautista. He partially tore his UCL in August and will undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Yennier Cano, DL Hall, Shintaro Fujinami and Danny Coulombe have been handling the late innings.
The Orioles got here in large part because of decisions made in 2018 and beyond. That’s when the previous regime continued to mold regulars such as Hays, Mullins and Santander, and it’s when they drafted right-hander Rodriguez. Soon after, Mike Elias took over as general manager. The following years with Elias in charge have included a robust revitalization of Baltimore’s farm system through the draft and international scouting, and the result is this: a first American League East championship since 2014.
At a more micro level, the Orioles got to the postseason this year in large part because of a tendency to come back late in games. Some of those comeback wins created the most memorable moments of the year.
- May 5: Orioles 9, Atlanta Braves 4. Baltimore opened its 11th series in a row with a victory, and this came against the top National League team on the road. Santander rang in the victory with two home runs, including a grand slam that broke the game open. Although the Orioles lost the next two games against the Braves, each defeat was by one run, showing they’re capable of competing with the best.
- Aug. 13: Orioles 5, Seattle Mariners 3. Baltimore dropped the opener and then scraped across a 1-0 victory in 10 innings the next day, setting up a memorable finale for Mullins and the Orioles. Mullins made one of the best catches of his life to rob a homer, and while Mike Baumann allowed a two-out, game-tying long ball, Mullins followed it with his own two-run homer just a moment after pulling a homer foul.
- Sept. 11: Orioles 11, St. Louis Cardinals 5. Mullins was at it again. This time, his grand slam added to a season full of memorable moments. But the following four games matched Baltimore’s longest losing streak of the season at four, and it escalated the emotion that was to come.
- Sept. 17: Orioles 5, Tampa Bay Rays 4. An instant classic, capped with a champagne celebration in the clubhouse. Baltimore broke its four-game losing streak the night before when Rodriguez pitched eight innings and Henderson contributed three hits, then the Orioles secured their first playoff berth since 2016 with a walk-off victory, setting Baltimore on its way to the AL East crown.
The high jinks
Pay attention to the moments when the ball isn’t in play, and you’re bound to notice the intricacies of Orioles traditions.
A single? The motion the Orioles baserunner does is turning on the mock faucet. A double or triple? The batter mimics a sprinkler celebration while the starting pitchers in the dugout spray water out of their mouths.
Water is a consistent theme. It began with an idea from Cole Irvin early in the year. He suggested that Baltimore create a Bird Bath section. The idea stuck, and the Splash Zone has been one of the best sections in Camden Yards.
And then there’s the Homer Hose. Hitting long balls is thirsty work, so once a player reaches the dugout, his teammates grab a hose with a funnel at the end. Then they pour water down it for the homer hitter to drink.
This is an Orioles team that can be very serious when the moment calls for it — and then flips a switch to lean on the youthful energy.
Where to watch
The best place to watch is Camden Yards, and fans can buy tickets here.
But, all around Baltimore, bars will show postseason baseball. When a schedule is confirmed, watch parties will likely follow. For advanced planning purposes, it’s always a safe bet to head to Pickles Pub or Section 711, bars only a stone’s throw from the stadium. Pickles, especially, is an iconic Orioles establishment that will be festive before, during and after games.
Farther afield, Canton is full of sports bars, and Mahaffey’s Pub, Ellie’s Tavern, Claddagh Pub and The Dive are all worthy eat-and-drink locations for Orioles games. In Federal Hill or Locust Point, Riverside Taphouse, Hull Street Blues Café and Hair of the Dog are slightly off the beaten bath — and that’s a good thing.
For a craft beer experience, breweries such as Guilford Hall, Mobtown, Diamondback and Checkerspot are clutch.
When the Orioles are in the postseason, the only bad seat in town is one without a view of the game.