July 01, 2009 |

It was after the rain delay, and with two outs in the inning, and up 9-1, the Red Sox infield walked off of the field. Most of the people remaining in the ballpark were confused, but not the BoSox infield! Nick Markakis stood at the plate watching the mistake. After about 30 seconds, someone apparently informed the diamond dwellers that they had forgotten how to count.

Everyone had a big laugh about it! Youkolis stood at third base, unable to contain the chuckle that escaped his lips. The Red Sox had over looked an out in the game. It didn’t matter though…they were only playing the lowly Baltimore Orioles, again in last place, and again unable to find a way to beat the vaunted recent world Champion Boston Red Sox. They were leading 9-1 on their home turf…I mean, at Camden Yards. Despite the fact that the crowd started out much closer to a 50 – 50 split between orange and red clad fans than will be credited, the rain…and the score had washed much of the orange away. No, you could chalk up that ridiculous unthinking move to the musings and a good-natured fine during some session of a team kangaroo court. The thing is…the Red Sox Lost.

As fate would have it, they didn’t simply overlook the out, they would inadvertently overlook the game. Perhaps the rain combined with the score did more than wipe most of the O’s fans away. Perhaps it was that they removed the captain of the BoSox, catcher Jason Varitek, ( A player who I believe is one of the most underappreciated forces in the game in terms of the way he keeps a pitching staff together, and manages a game.) Perhaps it was that they had checked out of this game early knowing that the score was well in hand, and they needed to be ready to play an afternoon away game in just a few hours. Whatever the cause, the Red Sox could not find an answer for a relentless offensive attack put on by the Orioles in the seventh and eighth innings.

The Orioles’ play on this evening would be perfectly symbolized by Adam Jones literally leaving everything he had on the field, after going up over the wall in an attempt to bring Kevin Youkolis’ home run ball back into the field of play. The ball was in Jones’ glove when it went over. Jones would leave the game early, opening the door for Felix Pie to have his best game as an Oriole. People asking to see Pie’s tools saw them for the first time on this night.

On a day when I personally found myself debating with several people if the Orioles are in fact…better, a positive step was taken. On a day when another Oriole starter was torched, leaving the bullpen to once again live up to the pre-season hype (overall, it would be hard to argue that the members of the pen have not done well collectively. They have been a source of strength for the club, particularly in the last two months.) On a day when the progress of the young Oriole position players was in question, seven hits were accrued between Reimold, Weiters, and Pie. After again being called the worst organization in the game, The Pirates traded yet another quality inexpensive young outfielder away, for National castoffs Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan, leaving the hapless organization with less clarity than ever before.

The Orioles are waiting for their starting pitching to develop. That is the biggest piece, and it is lagging sorely behind. The rest of the process is making progress. The Orioles are inconsistent, and prone to slumps that leave them looking horrible for days, or weeks at a time. Many young teams can be accused of that. They are also capable of the moments that put the true talent of the club front and center. Much of the talent is already in Baltimore. If you look at their record from years past and expect to sleep walk past the Orioles, you may find yourself awaking to a nightmare…just ask the Boston Red Sox. Yes, it was one night, but it was a night that for the first time in a long time came at the right time for the club. A night that showed the promise of what could be, and for the fans that stayed, should become a defining moment…for years to come.