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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Astros aren’t dead yet

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The scandal-ridden club, once staring down a sweep at the hands of the Rays, has suddenly made the ALCS competitive again.

MLB: ALCS-Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Like a bad rash, the Houston Astros just won’t go away. Even with almost the entirety of the baseball world rooting against them, the disgraced former World Series champs — with a roster still made up largely of the cheating cheaters who cheated their way to the 2017 title — has clawed its way back from the grave, winning two games in a row to shave the Rays’ ALCS 3-0 series lead to 3-2. They’re halfway to becoming the only team besides the 2004 Red Sox to rally back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

The odds are still stacked against them. Keep in mind that the Astros were a losing team during the regular season and only snuck in because of the expanded 16-team playoffs, and they’re facing a Rays club that was the No. 1 overall seed. But Houston seems to have found its postseason mojo, much to everyone else’s chagrin.

Look, I’m thrilled that we got to watch baseball at all in 2020 after it appeared for so long that it wasn’t going to happen. I’m certainly appreciative of the effort put in by everyone involved to make this MLB season a reality. But if the Astros are able to pull off this improbable comeback and then win the World Series, well...that would end this remarkable season on a bit of a sour note.

Links

Who are the candidates to close for the Orioles in 2021? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Cue the “who cares who closes for a losing team?” naysayers. True, a closer may not be essential, but a bad one is capable of ruining any fan’s night. Just ask Cole Sulser.

More on instructional league, bullpen and a Hall of Famer's birthday - School of Roch
The O’s instructional leaguers will start playing games against opponents on Monday. What's it gonna take to get these televised? I know media isn't allowed, but you're telling me nobody can sneak in with a camera phone and post it on YouTube? Someone make this happen!

Q&A with Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson: On his career, his life and baseball – The Athletic
Brooks Robinson is just the best.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your share your day with the delightful Jonathan Schoop, who turns 29. Schoop is coming off two solid seasons, the first with the Twins and the second with the Tigers, and is eligible for free agency again. Reunion in Baltimore, anyone?? Other ex-Orioles born on this day are 1977-78 pinch-runner Mike Dimmel (66) and 1973-74 lefty Don Hood (71). And it’s the birthday of righty Jack Baldschun (84), who was an Oriole for only three days in December 1965, but was part of the trade package to Cincinnati that landed Frank Robinson in Baltimore. Thanks, Jack!

The Orioles have played four World Series games on this date, winning two and losing two.

  • In 1969, the Amazin’ Mets (though Orioles fans probably have a different nickname for them that also ends with “-in”) completed a stunning World Series upset of the heavily favored Birds. The O’s frittered away a 3-0 sixth-inning lead, with the Mets taking the lead in an eighth inning that featured two Orioles errors, to give New York its fourth straight win and first World Series championship. It was a disappointing finish for the Orioles’ best team (by regular season winning percentage) of all time.
  • In 1971, the Orioles forced a Game 7 in the World Series with a dramatic Game 6 walkoff win against the Pirates, 3-2, in 10 innings. Frank Robinson, in his next-to-last game as an Oriole, hustled the Birds to victory by aggressively advancing from first to third on a single and then charging home on a shallow flyout to center, diving in under the catcher for the winning run. Not bad for a 36-year-old with a strained Achilles tendon.
  • In 1979, it was the Pirates who forced a Game 7 by winning Game 6 in Baltimore, 4-0, behind a combined shutout by John Candelaria and Kent Tekulve. O’s starter Jim Palmer gave up two runs apiece in the seventh and eighth for the loss.
  • And this was a special day indeed in 1983, as the Orioles sealed their third World Series championship — and still their most recent — with a 5-0 shutout in Philadelphia in Game 5. Eddie Murray bashed a pair of home runs and World Series MVP Rick Dempsey added one, while Scott McGregor went the distance with a five-hit shutout. Cal Ripken Jr. caught Garry Maddox’s liner to end the game, and the Orioles were kings of the world. Thirty-seven years later, we’re still waiting for it to happen again.