Well, here it is, June 26 and we can still actually talk about the Orioles and not use the word “suck”, “losers”, or “football season”. At this point in the season the Orioles are 41-31 and only 2 and a half games behind the resurgent Yankees. The team has had many ups and downs, but I actually have seen some comparisons with the “Orioles Magic” team of the 197o’s-1980′s and this team.
First of all, the contributions of everyone. From Steve Tolleson, to Ronny Paulino, to Ryan Flaherty, to Chris Davis (as hitter and pitcher), all 25 roster players have contributed to Oriole victories. Even Xavier Avery, during his short tenure with the team, had clutch hitting and fielding plays that led to victories.
Secondly, the late inning heroics. The Orioles lead the league with 38 homeruns in the 7th inning or later. They have had numerous comebacks this season, after winning only one game after trailing in the seventh or later last year. The Orioles are 9-2 in extra-inning games and 13-6 in one-run games. The 1979 team had a successful bullpen trio (Tim Stoddard, Tippy Martinez and Don Stanhouse). This team has Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop, and Jim Johnson.
Finally, the platooning system. In 1979, it was Roenickeayalastein. (or lowenroenickayala, whomever you liked more). This year, it is the “AndinoFlaherBetemTolleChavez”. Although they haven’t torn the league up in any way shape or form, they have been adequate enough to help the team win a few games.
Although the team has not been able to knock in runners in scoring position in the last few games, they have continued to win. The 1983 White Sox called it “Winning Ugly”. I guess in this era of political correctness it can be called “Winning not as attractively”. Despite season ending injuries to Tsuyoshi Wada and Nolan Reimold, chunks of time missed by Mark Reynolds, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, and J.J. Hardy, the Orioles continue to win. Despite inconsistent pitching from the starting rotation, the Orioles continue to win, thanks to the stellar work of the bullpen and the starting pitching keeping the team in games.
What’s going to happen when Markakis returns to the lineup? What about Zach Britton to the rotation? Either one of them will add depth to the team and hopefully will lead the team to more victories.
Can this team win the division? Probably not. Can they be a wild card team? Possibly. But regardless, there are many positives about the Orioles and the rest of the year should be fun to watch.