I haven’t post in a while but it hasn’t been out of lack of interest. First was vacation, then I was busy at work and . . . you get the idea. It is August 8th and the Baltimore Orioles sit at 8 games over .500 with a record of 59-51. In four months of baseball, we have already seen the following occur:
- Jason Hammel went seven complete innings without allowing a hit during his first start as an Oriole on April 8th. Two months and one week later on June 16th, Hammel was perfect for 6 2/3’s innings before losing the perfect game and then the no-hitter. Hammel went on the DL in July with a 3.54 ERA, 8 wins, and a near 9 K/9 IP ratio. He also just missed making his first all-star team. The player many of us were sad to see go in the trade that brought Hammel here, Jeremy Guthrie, posted an ERA north of 6.00 for the Rockies before being traded to the Royals in July.
- On May 6th in a game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, designated hitter Chris Davis went 0-8, struck out five times, and grounded into one double play. He was also the hero of the game, logging two innings in relief and getting the win in a 17 inning marathon.
- The O’s bullpen – a much maligned facet of the team in recent memory – has been one of the Major’s best, posting a 3.06 ERA (good for 4th in MLB) while logging an amazing 370 innings pitched thus far.
- On April 6th, the O’s dropped an extra-inning game to the Yankees at home for the second time in as many nights. Since that date, the O’s have played in twelve more extra-inning games and won them all. Their current twelve game extra-inning win streak is the second longest in Major League history and includes one 12-inning game, two 13-inning games, one 14-inning game, one 15-inning game, and the previously mentioned 17-inning marathon in Boston.
- Wei-Yen has exceeded nearly all expectations turning himself into a legitimate rookie of the year candidate while out performing his fellow Nippon Baseball League alumni Yu Darvish. Chen has done so while costing the Orioles a fraction of what it took for the Rangers to land the much heavier-hyped Darvish.
- Young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Britton have all struggled mightily at the Major League level, however the O’s haven’t missed a beat replacing them with 29 year old rookie Miguel Gonzales and former top prospect turned giant question mark, Chris Tillman. Combined, the two starters have won eight games, lost three, and have pitched to a 3.21 ERA.
- Adam Jones has had a monster season and signed a mid-season extension that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2018 season.
I could go on, but needless to say, a lot has happened these last four months , much of it very unexpected. Now though, the fun really begins. For the first time in 15 seasons, the O’s find themselves smack dab in the middle of a playoff race. The Orioles entered today tied with Oakland for the second wild card spot and a game behind the Angels for the top wild card spot. The division is also well in their sights – the team sits just 4 ½ games behind the rival Yankees. It’s been an incredibly fun and exciting season thus far, but hopefully the best is yet to come. Now is the time to get excited.
The fans of Baltimore have long said they would root for a winning O’s team. I am not sure what winning has to do with one’s fandom, but nonetheless, for everyone that made that statement now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. No more excuses – no more “waiting and seeing” if the O’s can maintain their current momentum. The Birds are nine games over .500 on August 8th. They are tied for a wild card spot. The division title is just 4 ½ games away with nine games still left to be played against the Yankees, including six at home. If that doesn’t get people excited then I don’t get it. It’s time to get out to Camden Yards and root on this team that is chalk full of likeable and hard-working players to the playoffs. Stop guarding yourselves from disappointment and enjoy this ride for what it is.
The Oriole players have lived all season like they have had nothing to lose. Now it is time the for the fans to do the same.