Ok, so I 100% stole this title from Tim and Sid. But if they get pissed about that…I’m pumped cause it will mean they’ve heard of me! And really it is pretty ridiculous to use this title cause it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about, it’s just awesome!
But what a story the Baltimore Orioles have become! Sure they lost dropped back to a game out of 1st in the AL East last night, but they are still tied with Oakland at the top of the wild card standings, and get the Yanks at home starting tonight for a HUGE 4 game series.
It is simply unbelieveable that they’re in this position. A team that a lot of people picked to finish 7th in a 5 team division. You looked at this roster and said “they have Adam Jones and nothing else”. If they had anyone else that could break out you would have thought at that time it would be Matt Weiters and while 18 bombs and 67 RBI’s is a good production from a catcher, he has yet to really live up to expectations.
Then at midseason the pitching staff imploded. Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter all completely went in the tank around the All-Star break. They all have ERA’s well over 5.00, are a combined 15 games below .500, and subsequently got sent down (although Matusz and Hunter are back up with the expanded rosters). The teams best pitcher was Jason Hammel who went down on July 13th after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
This is the worst fielding team in the AL. They have the 2nd most DL stints in the AL. Their run differential is -21, compared to the Yanks who are +85, the Rays are +79, and the A’s are +68! It is amazing that this team is in the spot they are, but once again a Buck Showalter team is finding a way to get it done. His Yankees were like this, his D-backs were like this, even his Rangers were like this. Well, actually that’s not quite true. None of them were like THIS!
The key for this team is that they’ve got it done when they’ve needed to. They’re 24-7 in 1 run games this season. Far and away the best winning percentage in 1 run games in the majors this season. That could be huge coming down the stretch and possibly into the playoffs as they will have a lot of confidence in those tight games.
The key is this weekend though. And just in time for the Yankees series Jason Hammel will return to start the opener tonight. Taking 3 of 4 in this series would put the O’s in the drivers seat for the AL East title for the first time since 1997.
And how could you not pull for them? 15 years since not only winning the division but being in the playoffs. And really, this team hasn’t even been close to the playoffs in that time. The 98 massively underachieved, and the only other time they even looked promising was 2005 when they started hot but were already well out of it by the time the All-Star break rolled around. It’s been ROUGH for O’s fans, a franchise that through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s wasn’t used to losing.
MLB needs more traditional powers like the O’s to come back from the dead and be powers once again. It’s been a good year for that with the Reds leading the NL Central, the Pirates being in the race in the Central and more so the NL wild card, and the Dodgers making all the big moves they’ve been making. They’re young, talented and exciting so hopefully the O’s can get in and when they do they just might find a way to do some damage.
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