Feel the Magic: The O’s are beating the AL East’s best

April 11, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

So far, there’s not much to complain about. If the Orioles can just get a dozen more starts like Mark Hendrickson’s gem last night, this might turn into an interesting spring. There once was a time when beating Tampa Bay in April was meaningless. No mas…

As I watch the rain fall today — and I can’t believe that they’ll actually play this evening but the forecast is for a late afternoon clearing and an “ontime” start –  the pitching advantage certainly benefits the Birds tonight with Jeremy Guthrie taking the ball against Jeff Niemann. The Orioles are now 3-1 and have managed to hold on late in all three games, contests that in previous years might’ve gone the wrong way. And the bullpen has really kinda stunk all week, which usually means “death knell.”

Here’s all you need to know about the offense: Brian Roberts is hitting .438 and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are stroking it at a .429 clip. The table is being set. I don’t love Jones in the No. 2 hole — he strikes out too much — but if he can continue to make contact and maybe even use his speed to bunt and hit behind runners (and Roberts will be on base plenty) there will be RBI opportunities for Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora or whomever is in the middle of the order. And, of course, there’s always the mystery of where Matt Wieters will bat once he’s summoned from the Tidewater Basin.

The difference between the Orioles winning 65 or 75 games this year will depend on the pitching. Heck, Hendrickson just MAKING it into the sixth inning is a victory if he can do that every five days. Resting the bullpen, which no doubt will be taxed, is essential. Especially with Adam Eaton-up-innings looming on Easter Sunday.

They’re 3-1. It’s raining. Guthrie wants the ball. They’ll be wearing BALTIMORE grey sweaters on Monday night (please join us at Padonia Station for a combo “Billick-DeCosta” draft show and BALTIMORE viewing party at 7 p.m. as the Birds travel to Arlington to take on the Rangers). A split over the next 48 hours and they will have taken two series against  “elite” teams in the AL East to start the season. And the reasoning goes: if they can beat these teams, they can beat anyone.

One more thought for the weekend: WOW, Evan Longoria is solid. If Wieters is HALF this good it’ll be fun watching when he gets called up, no matter their record.

Rain, rain…go away! We gotta play the Rays today…

Hope to see you at the Blast game tonight! (I’m DVRing the Birds in “low def” on MASN).

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