10/06/12 8:45 PM ET
O's thrilled to have Baltimore buzzing in October
By Brittany Ghiroli and Andrew Simon / MLB.com
"It's phenomenal; I get chills just thinking about it," left-handed reliever Brian Matusz said on Saturday. "I can't wait for tomorrow to see a packed Camden Yards. The fans have been waiting for this for a long time, and it's exciting to bring playoff baseball back to Baltimore. Personally, to be a part of it, it's an unbelievable, special feeling. I'm going to take advantage of every moment."
The ballpark's last postseason contest came on Oct. 15, 1997, when the Indians closed out their AL Championship Series triumph in Game 6. From then through 2011, the Orioles had posted 14 straight losing seasons, finishing higher than fourth in the AL East only once.
Meaningful late-season baseball returned to Camden Yards this season, as the O's went 93-69 and finished second in the division. The players noticed the fanbase responding.
"Baltimore, it's a great baseball town, and we saw that throughout the year," catcher Matt Wieters said. "As we kept winning, we saw the fans come out -- what great baseball fans we have here. Playoff baseball, it's going to be even better, so we're all excited in here."
The fact that it's the rival Yankees coming to town could add even more intensity to the next two nights, but considering his franchise's drought, center fielder Adam Jones wasn't going to be picky about the opponent.
"I don't care who we've got to go through -- it doesn't matter," Jones said. "We've put ourselves in position. If my mom was on the other team, I've got to go through her. I don't care. At this point in time, I don't care who's in another jersey. I'm like a bull. I'm just ready at this point."
Chen, Gonzalez to face Yanks in Games 2, 3
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles will tab rookie starters Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez to start in Games 2 and 3, respectively, in the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Chen, who last pitched Monday in St. Petersburg against the Rays, has a 4.39 ERA in 16 starts on regular rest, an ERA that drops to 2.28 when he gets six or more days of rest. The 26-year-old lefty, signed out of Japan this winter, is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts against the Yankees and will face them for Monday's home game, which is slated to start at 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.
A pleasant surprise for the starting staff, Chen helped anchor an uncertain rotation with starter Jason Hammel sidelined by a right knee injury. Still, Chen has struggled down the stretch, posting a 5.05 ERA in six September/October starts, the worst ERA in an otherwise impressive rookie campaign.
Given that Chen is used to pitching on five days' rest in Japan, the Orioles tried to push him back whenever possible this season in hopes of keeping him fresh and easing the transition to the Major Leagues.
The club has also taken great care in preserving Gonzalez, who was signed out of the Mexican Winter Leagues and started the season as a reliever. A 28-year-old who had just one career start above Double-A, Gonzalez has been one of the best stories this season and the Orioles have closely monitored his innings down the stretch. Gonzalez has pitched to a 4.55 ERA in nine starts on regular rest, a mark that drops to 2.52 when getting six or more days rest.
The right-handed Gonzalez last pitched Tuesday against the Rays, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings at Tropicana Field. He has excelled on the road in particular, and is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two career starts at Yankee Stadium. The start time for Wednesday's Game 3 in the Bronx has yet to be announced.
Reynolds 'good to go' for Game 1 in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds said on Saturday he'll be "good to go" for Sunday's 6 p.m. ET Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees on TBS, despite taking a Yu Darvish pitch off his left hand in Friday's 5-1 win over the Rangers in the AL Wild Card game.
Reynolds was hit in the second inning but stayed in the game and stole second base. The veteran slugger, who bats right-handed, finished the game 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"It's a little sore, but it's fine," Reynolds said.
Reynolds was already recovering from having fouled a ball off a bone in his left foot on Wednesday. He spent time on the disabled list this season with a left oblique strain, playing in 135 games and batting .221 with 23 home runs and a .763 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Matusz expects to be plenty busy out of the Orioles' bullpen in this series, considering the makeup of the Yankees' lineup. Matusz posted a 1.35 ERA in 18 regular-season relief appearances, holding lefties to a .175 batting average.
"They've got a pretty left-handed-heavy lineup and obviously a lot of good ones in there, too," Matusz said. "So this is going to be a series where I'm going to have to be ready every game and prepare myself to face those guys."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Andrew Simon is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.