Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have the ability to outperform the Justin Upton-Miguel Montero duo of 2011, the division looks less imposing than it did just five weeks ago, the depth assembled in the starting rotation has been fantastic, and Jake Arrieta profiles as the hard-throwing power pitcher that can be dominant if he harnesses his stuff. While it would be a ton to ask him to be Ian Kennedy, his start on Wednesday in Yankee Stadium gives a glimpse into that potential. He struck out nine, walked none and allowed five hits in eight scoreless innings to lead the Orioles to a 5-0 shutout vs. the Yankees. Arrieta has a pair of starts this season in which he has gone at least seven innings and not allowed a run.
But perhaps most importantly to the quick turnaround has been the bullpen. Often the most violate, unpredictable part of a club, this Oriole group has dominated the back-end of games. The five-headed monster of Jim Johnson, Darren O’Day, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, and Matt Lindstrom has combined to allow only four earned runs in 57 innings. Or in other words, they’ve pitched to a 0.63 ERA since Opening Day.
Worst-to-first stories don’t happen everyday. Believing this is a competitive team can be difficult. Believing it can be a postseason team is lunacy after 25 games. But if you want to hope and dream, there’s a tangible blueprint to follow. Just look at the 2011 Snakes.
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