How fitting that the the battle between the two teams in the A.L. East would carry over into the postseason.
The Baltimore Orioles disposed of the Texas Rangers 5-1 in the one-game wild card Friday night, which will allow them to advance to the American League Division Series and take on the New York Yankees.
For most of 2012, the Yankees hung onto first place in the East and during one point in July, had a 10.5 game lead over Baltimore.
But as the Yankees faded, the Orioles kept playing well, and eventually cut into the lead and caught up to the Yankees and tied them in the division.
The Yankees were able to win the division on the very last game of the last regular season series, which pushed Baltimore into the Wild Card.
Now, for the first time since 1996, these two teams will square off in the ALDS of the 2012 playoffs.
What can you expect from both sides in this series?
Lets break down both teams' rosters, how they did during the season and end it with a final series prediction.
Here's how the Yankees lineup should look against the Orioles:
1. SS- Derek Jeter; .316, 15 HR, 58 RBI
2. RF- Nick Swisher, .272, 24 HR, 93 RBI
3. 3B- Alex Rodriguez; .272, 18 HR, 57 RBI
4. 2B- Robinson Cano, .313, 33 HR, 94 RBI
5. 1B- Mark Teixeira; .251, 24 HR, 84 RBI
6. CF- Curtis Granderson; .232, 43 HR, 106 RBI
7. DH- Raul Ibanez; .240, 19 HR, 62 RBI
8. C- Russell Martin, .211, 21 HR, 53 RBI
9. LF- Ichiro Suzuki; ..283, 9 HR, 55 RBI
They can mix around the bottom three of the lineup and even put Ichiro in the No. 2 spot and drop Swisher to the five-spot.
Brett Gardner has returned from spending most of the season the DL with an elbow injury.
Here's how the Orioles lineup should look against the Yankees:
1. LF- Nate McLouth; .241, 7 HR, 24 RBI
2. SS- J.J. Hardy; .238, 22 HR, 68 RBI
3. CF- Adam Jones; .287, 32 HR, 82 RBI
4. C- Matt Wieters; .249, 23 HR, 89 RBI
5. DH- Jim Thome; .252, 8 HR, 25 RBI
6. 1B- Mark Reynolds; .221, 23 HR, 69 RBI
7. RF- Chris Davis; .270, 33 HR, 85 RBI
8. 2B- Ryan Flaherty; .216, 6 HR, 19 RBI
9. 3B- Manny Macahdo; .262, 7 HR, 26 RBI
Other key bats on the team include Robert Andino and Endy Chávez.
Regular right fielder Nick Markakis is still out recovering from a broken thumb and won't be back for this series.
The starting rotation:
1. LHP- CC Sabathia; 15-6, 3.38 ERA
2. RHP- Hiroki Kuroda; 16-11. 3.32 ERA
3. LHP- Andy Pettitte; 5-4, 2.87 ERA
4. RHP- Phil Hughes; 16-13; 4.23 ERA
1. RHP- Ivan Nova; 12-8, 5.02 ERA
2. RHP- Derek Lowe; 9-11. 5.11 ERA
3. RHP- Cody Eppley; 1-2; 3.33 ERA
4. RHP- Joba Chamberlain; 1-0, 4.35 ERA
5. LHP- Boone Logan; 7-2, 3.74 ERA
6. LHP- Clay Rapada; 3-0, 2.82 ERA
7. RHP- David Phelps; 4-4, 3.44 ERA
8. RHP- David Robertson; 2-7, 2.67 ERA
9. RHP- Rafael Soriano; 2-1, 2.26 ERA, 42 saves
The starting rotation:
1. LHP- Wei-Yin Chen; 12-11, 4.02 ERA
2. RHP- Miguel Gonzalez; 9-4, 3.25 ERA
3. RHP- Chris Tillman; 9-3, 2.93 ERA
4. LHP- Joe Saunders; 9-13; 4.07 ERA
1. RHP- Luis Ayala; 5-5, 2.64 ERA
2. LHP- Zach Britton; 5-3, 5.07 ERA
3. LHP- Brian Matusz; 6-10, 4.87 ERA
4. LHP- Troy Patton; 1-0, 2.43 ERA
5. RHP- Pedro Strop; 5-2. 2.44 ERA
6. RHP- Darren O'Day; 7-1, 2.28 ERA
7. RHP- Jim Johnson; 2-1; 2.49 ERA, 51 saves
Over the course of 2012, the Yankees and Orioles played 18 times and finished at 9-9.
On April 9-11 at Camden Yards, the Yankees swept the series, winning 6-2, 5-4 and 6-4.
On April 30-May 2 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees won the first game 2-1, then the Orioles won the next two 7-1 and 5-0.
On May 14-15 at Camden Yards, the Yankees won the first game 8-5 and the Orioles won the second game 5-2.
On July 30-August 1 at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles won the first two games 5-4 and 11-5, and the Yankees won the finale 12-3.
On August 31-September 2 at Yankee Stadium, the Orioles won the first game 6-1, the Yankees won the second game 4-3 and the Orioles won the finale 8-3.
On September 6-9 at Camden Yards, the Orioles won the first game 10-6, the Yankees won the second game 8-5, the Orioles won the third game 5-4 and the Yankees won the finale 13-3.
At Camden Yards, the Yankees won the series 6-3.
At Yankee Stadium, the Orioles won the series 6-3.
Here's how the ALDS schedule breaks down for each game:
Game 1: Sunday, October 7, 6:15p.m., Camden Yards
Game 2: Monday, October 8, 8:07p.m., Camden Yards
Game 3: Wednesday, October 10, TBD, Yankee Stadium
Game 4: Thursday, October 11, TBD, Yankee Stadium (if necessary)
Game 5: Friday, October 12, TBD, Yankee Stadium (if necessary)
Before last week, I didn't have a good feeling heading into a series with the Orioles.
Now, I've changed my mind on it.
I like the Yankees because of their experience and depth against the Orioles.
Granted, the Orioles did just eliminate the A.L. champion Texas Rangers, but could they have done that in a series? Who knows?
Now, the young Orioles team has to play a Yankee team full of veterans who are not unnerved by the big stage of the postseason.
Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte have done this so many times as teammates.
Buck Showalter is a great manager, and may even be the 2012 A.L. Manager of the Year. But I don't know if his team is ready for the kind of games they will be experiencing for the first time.
In the series, I like the Yankees to beat Baltimore 3-1 and move on to the ALCS to play either the Oakland A's or Detroit Tigers.