Look How Far We've Come

The O’s just finished a 9-2 home stand that surpassed any of my reasonable expectations.  Paul and I talked about the various scenarios coming into the home stand.  7-4 would be great.  8-3 would be amazing.  6-5 would be fine, especially with two four game sets, with one against the Rays.  The actual result is almost out of this world good.

The feeling I get from O’s fans on Twitter is that a lot of people don’t actually understand how amazing of a position the team is in.  I’m of the mindset that until the division is clinched, nothing is fully settled but simple math tells you that neither the Yankees nor the Blue Jays will come within striking distance of reaching the O’s for the AL East title.

The Blue Jays swept the Rays this week in a three game series and gained no games.  The Yankees took two out of three from the Red Sox and lost a game.  I don’t expect, nor should you, that the Orioles will win every game and sweep every series until the end of the year, but minor hiccups are bound to happen.  Having to face Cobb and Smyly this weekend could be one of the road bumps.  But these minor hiccups (i.e. the Cubs series) won’t break the season.

Other Thoughts

  • There is a pretty good chance that the AL East will be clinched at home during the next ten-game home stand.  The magic number stands at 15 prior to Friday night’s game against the Rays.

Let’s throw out a scenario.

The O’s go 3-3 on this road trip against Tampa and Boston.  That moves the magic number down to 12.  The Yankees play three against Kansas City and three against Tampa.  They aren’t going to go 6-0.  But for the sake of argument, we’ll say they get hot and go 4-2.  Magic number is still reduced to 10. 

And then both teams meet at OPACY for a four game set next weekend.  Splitting the series with the Yankees reduced the number to 6.  Three out of four makes it 4.  A sweep makes it 2.  It is well within reach that the Blue Jays or Red Sox series to close the home portion of the schedule will be a clincher.  And it will be much deserved, especially after watching Joe Nathan blow the save in 2012 after the Orioles swept the Red Sox in the final home series of the year and not get to celebrate clinching a playoff spot with the fans. 

  • On September 29, 2011, at around 12:30 am as Paul and I were circling Camden Yards celebrating knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs, I asked him in a serious tone, “What will be better than this?”  The answer: the playoffs. 

A little less than three years later, with 23 games remaining, the Orioles have a magic number that should be achieved in advance of the final week of the season. 

Two words – absolutely amazing.

April Showers . . .

The Birds survived a rainy April without drowning.  Now they are hoping that May brings with it some flowers and more importantly, some consistent winning performances.  There are reasons to be optimistic that the better days of the 2014 regular season lie ahead of the O's.

Keith Law on Hunter Harvey's fastball

Keith Law (ESPN Insider) on Hunter Harvey's outing against the Hagerstown Sun from yesterday afternoon:

I last scouted Harvey exactly one year ago, and his stride is still moderate with a leg swing rather than a step-over, and his release point is a little higher -- he's still finishing over his front side, but not extending as far as he did in high school. But he's more fluid now, with less effort, yet without losing any arm speed. I have heard of better velocity from Harvey, but 92-94 with this kind of sink and a swing-and-miss curveball will be a deadly combination if he can just work in an average changeup. 

The pitching depth in the minors is certainly the O's organizational strength at this point.  Velocity isn't usually as important as fastball location.  Without the command, 96-98 mph doesn't matter as much.  

Case in point - Zach Britton.  Command of his sinking fastball was half of the missing equation (with health being the other).