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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the video game Orioles are battling for the playoffs

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With five games left to play in the MLB: The Show Players League, Dwight Smith Jr. is jockeying for a postseason seed.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The 2020 Orioles are on the cusp of a playoff spot! ...The video game Orioles, that is.

The MLB: The Show Players’ League is nearing the end of the first round, and Dwight Smith Jr. has steered the Orioles into a promising position. The top eight players will advance to the postseason, and Smith is very much in the mix; his Orioles entered last night with a 14-8 record, placing them ninth in winning percentage at this point.

Smith’s first matchup of the night was a memorable one, as he took on the Blue Jays — his former team — and his friend Bo Bichette, who carried a 9-3 record into the evening. The two were chatting throughout the game, a back-and-forth affair that was ultimately won, unfortunately, by the Jays. After the clubs traded early two-run homers, the Birds took a 3-2 lead in the second on a Jose Iglesias RBI single. But closer Mychal Givens, one out away from victory, issued a walk and then a crushing two-run homer by Vlad Guerrero Jr. (And honestly, couldn’t you easily picture that happening in real life?)

“Oh my God! That did not just happen,” Smith lamented. “That one hurt. I needed that one.” Smith also wasn’t happy at the software when his video game self got thrown out trying to stretch a bloop to left into a double. “Come on, I’m making that! That’s an easy double for me.”

Smith’s next game came against 3-11 Mariners reliever Carl Edwards Jr., who quickly showed why his record was what it was. Edwards didn’t seem to have a good handle on the game’s baserunning mechanics, committing two costly TOOTBLANS in the first two innings. In the first, speedy Dee Gordon somehow got hung up between second and third base on a single, with Little Smitty himself throwing out the runner from left field. “I got an assist! About time!” Smith exclaimed. In the second, Edwards similarly ran himself out of a bases-loaded rally. The Orioles, led by back-to-back homers from Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini in the first, cruised to a 5-1 win.

Smith was also scheduled to play the AngelsTy Buttrey last night, but the game was postponed because Buttrey’s PlayStation wasn’t working or something. Let’s just call it a rainout.

So Smith now has a 15-9 record with five games left to play, including the rescheduled contest against the Angels. Of his remaining challengers, Smith should — on paper — have three easily winnable games against the Red SoxEduardo Rodriguez (who was 2-15 entering last night), the IndiansCarlos Santana (3-14), and Buttrey (4-14), while he’ll face a tougher task against the MetsJeff McNeil (14-4) and the AthleticsJesus Luzardo (9-6).

A postseason spot is on the line, and this one could come down to the wire, folks. This might be the most exciting Orioles action we’ll get all year.

Links

Five Oriole questions to ponder as we wait - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff poses five questions that we may or may not eventually get the answers to, including “Where would Adley Rutschman have played?” At catcher, of course! Har har! (I’ll be here all week.)

Baysox GM on shutdown, the 2015 champs and more (with video) - Steve Melewski
Articles like this make me realize that I think I miss the Orioles’ minor leagues even more than I miss the Orioles. I need my prospect fix.

How On Earth Did the Dream Bracket Baltimore Orioles Lose? - Birds Watcher
The all-time Orioles team got swept by the all-time Astros in an MLB: The Show tournament, and Kristen Bentley is calling shenanigans. I’m not sure I subscribe to her conspiracy theory here. More likely, it’s just the fact that anything can happen in a short series, especially a simulated one.

Myths, misconceptions about some former Orioles players - School of Roch
Roch Kubatko debunks some of the famed O’s rumors of recent years, including the one about Mark Trumbo shutting down the pie celebrations, and the one about Cal Ripken getting in a fight with Kevin Costner. Ah, so it was Kevin Costner who shut down the pie celebrations and Mark Trumbo who fought Cal! Got it.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And happy 27th birthday to O’s ace John Means. Last year, Means started a game on his birthday — just his third major league start — and beat the White Sox. This year, he would’ve been the Opening Day starter (and could still be, if the season ever begins) and would probably have five or so starts under his belt by this point in the season. Instead, he’s stuck at home watching his old high school games on DVD.

Today is also the 33rd birthday of 2017 catcher Welington Castillo, who’s now a non-roster invitee with the Nationals.

On this day in 1994, the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. tagged poor O’s lefty Brad Pennington for one of the most prodigious home runs in Camden Yards history, a 438-foot blast that fell just 25 feet shy of the Warehouse. I attended that game as an 11-year-old and can still remember the sound of the ball off the bat. Absolutely demolished. Pennington had entered that game with a three-run lead and the bases loaded, threw a run-scoring wild pitch on his first offering, and coughed up the no-doubt-about-it Griffey blast on his second. It was the last pitch he threw for the Orioles that season.