SARASOTA, Fla. -- Another inch or two, and maybe the month of October would have turned out differently for the Orioles.
Instead, Nate McLouth’s potential game-tying home run in the sixth inning of ALDS Game 5 was ruled barely foul – the replay couldn’t prove it nicked the foul poles -- Baltimore lost, and Buck Showalter got to spend the last four months wondering what might have been.
When asked this week about a bounce or two that wound up being the difference between his club and the $200-million Yankees, Showalter didn’t miss a beat.
“You mean the ball that hit the foul pole?” Showalter said. “ The one that did but they didn’t call? Not that we remember.”
The Orioles are on the verge of a new season, but Showalter doesn’t want them to forget how 2012 ended. Centerfielder Adam Jones had T-shirts made that read “To be continued …” on the front and #StayHungry on the back, along with Jones’ Twitter feed: @SimplyAJ10. The players may lean on the usual clichés about turning the page, but Showalter refuses.
Asked when he finally let last season go, Showalter replied, “Nobody does. Don’t think everybody in our clubhouse was patting each other on the back after that last game. They were sincerely frustrated. We were a couple inches away.”
The Orioles should know it’s not easy to get that close, and despite losing the AL East to the Yankees by only two games, the consensus is that last year was a fluke. The latest Las Vegas odds have the Orioles, a 93-win team last season, as a 40-1 shot to win the World Series, the worst in the division, behind the favored Blue Jays (7-1), Yankees (12-1), Rays (25-1) and Red Sox (28-1).
“Picked to finish fifth, I got that,” Showalter said. “That’s right up our alley. I like that. I appreciate it, as a matter of fact.”