It may not qualify as a monkey off of their back just yet, but last night’s 4-1 win by the Orioles over the Red Sox has to be seen as encouraging on a number of fronts. Another strong outing for rookie Zach Britton has him all alone in rarified Oriole air for April wins by a rookie, the O’s seemingly exacted revenge over years of frustration on Red Sox’ starter Clay Buchholz and in the process the team, at least temporarily, put the brakes on another depressing skid in these early days of the 2011 season.
In addition to reversing their AL East mojo, the Orioles have also put themselves in a position to reverse another disturbing trend with just one more win in the next two games. As the world was beginning (or hoping) to draw some sense of panic from the Red Sox based on the way that they stumbled out of the gate this season, we might fairly guess that the Sox and their fans (at least the few who aren’t prone to panic) were circling this series against the Orioles as the unofficial official beginning to their season.
In each of the last two seasons, to different degrees, the Red Sox have seemed to struggle out of the gate only to right themselves against the O’s. Last season the Red Sox stumbled into their first series of the season against the Orioles at 6-10; banter about the demise of David Ortiz bat was persistent at that point too. In giving 2 of 3 to the Sox the O’s not only seemed to give them the boost of confidence they needed to right things, but in the process the Orioles awakened the bat of Ortiz as well. The Red Sox went on to win 89 games despite prolonged injury issues for a lot of their key players and Ortiz enjoyed a robust offensive campaign. In 2009 (albeit a smaller sample size) the Sox stumbled into their first series against the O’s at 4-6 and swept them in 4-straight on their way to 95 wins on the year.
Maybe it was the Red Sox fault that things didn’t start well for them in Camden Yards. They after all took it upon themselves to win 5 straight including a 4-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim, after a dismal 2-10 start before arriving in Baltimore. Winning 1 more in this series would put an end to this trend, and leave the O’s with at least 5 wins in the 10 games they’ve played against the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox this month. It could also put the team in a legitimate position to get back to .500 before the end of the month. Given the schedule they’ve dealt with in April, that’d be a strong month for any club in baseball. Add to that the stats generated in getting there and the anticipated market correction for lots of players on the horizon and the future could still be bright; especially for those afraid that the team’s days above .500 have already come and gone for the season.