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Friday Bird Droppings: Mike Elias’s ex-team continues to dominate

The Astros are one win away from reaching their sixth consecutive ALCS. It gives the Orioles something to aspire to.

Division Series - Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros - Game Two
The Astros, as it turns out, are pretty good.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

However you may feel about the Houston Astros, get ready to watch them in the AL Championship Series. Again.

OK, it’s not official. But the Astros sure seem like they’re on their way to their sixth straight ALCS after taking a commanding 2-0 lead over the Mariners yesterday in the best-of-five Division Series. The Astros, who had the best record in the American League and second-best in MLB this year, have three chances to finish off the M’s and advance.

It’s yet another feather in the cap of a franchise that has run roughshod over the American League for the better part of a decade (even if some of that success was, ahem, trash can-aided). Houston, of course, is where now-Orioles general manager Mike Elias served as director of amateur scouting and then assistant GM of scouting and player development for his nearly seven-year stint, playing a pivotal part in building the core of a dominant super-team.

The Astros have Elias to thank for many of their current contributors on the field. Elias, as scouting director, oversaw the 2015 draft that landed the Astros both Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker within the top five picks. The Astros struck gold in the international amateur market, signing nearly every key member of their current pitching staff — including Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and Cristian Javier — during Elias’ tenure. And Elias likely had a hand in the club’s signing of Yuli Gurriel and — oh yeah — swindling the Dodgers for a young prospect named Yordan Alvarez, then just in Rookie Ball, in 2016.

We’ve already seen signs that Elias may have brought some of that Houston magic to Baltimore. His inaugural 2019 draft with the Orioles, in which he brought in both Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, could prove to be just as fruitful — if not more so — than that Bregman/Tucker 1-2 punch with the Astros in 2015. He has significantly ramped up the Orioles’ international efforts, though it remains to be seen if any of his signings will prove as fruitful as Valdez, Urquidy, and the like, let alone Alvarez.

So yeah. As baseball fans, we may be annoyed about seeing the Astros make another deep run into October. But we certainly wouldn’t mind seeing our Orioles replicate that feat someday.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Your Orioles birthday buddies include outfielder Tommy Harper (82), infielder Kiko Garcia (69), catcher Carl Nichols (60), and two-game pinch-hitter Midre Cummings (51).

Oct. 14 has been a pretty dreadful day in Orioles history. The O’s have played six postseason games on this date...and gone 1-5. Ouch. Their lone win came in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series, when the Orioles stormed back from a late 2-0 deficit to pull off a 3-2 win against Phillies legend Steve Carlton. Right fielder “Disco” Dan Ford socked a solo homer in the sixth and reached on a costly error by Phils shortstop Ivan de Jesus in the seventh that pushed across the go-ahead run. Jim Palmer earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief. What a star-studded game this was, which included seven future Hall of Famers — Palmer, Carlton, Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt, and Tony Perez — along with Pete Rose, who...well, you know. The O’s took a 2-1 series lead with the win.

Beyond that, it’s all been sadness for the O’s on this date. They suffered losses in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series (5-0 to the Mets), Game 4 of the 1970 World Series (6-5 to the Reds), Game 5 of the 1971 World Series (4-0 to the Pirates), Game 5 of the 1979 World Series (7-1 to the Pirates), and Game 3 of the 2014 ALCS (2-1 to the Royals). In that 2014 loss, the O’s were held to just three hits by former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie and four relievers as the Royals took a commanding 3-0 series lead.