The Orioles recently finished their first home-stand of the early 2011 season, finishing 3-3 overall after dropping the final two games against the American League champion Texas Rangers by a combined score of 16-1.
But, with the rest of the AL East struggling at this point-the Orioles still remain atop first place in the division with a 6-3 record with a pivotal three-game series coming up against the second-place New York Yankees.
The Orioles really showed a lot in the weekend’s series against the Rangers, and despite the bats cooling down late in the series, the Birds showed that their pitching-when managed correctly-can keep them in a game or two.
Orioles rookie Zach Britton built on his debut in his first ever home start on Saturday, pitching into the eighth inning and keeping a potent Rangers lineup(which showed up in the second game of the double-header) off the scoreboard.
Jeremy Guthrie then piggy-backed on Britton’s performance on Sunday, and after having been on IVs only days earlier, pitched six strong innings while only allowing one long bomb to third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Those two showed that even if fellow starters Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Brad Bergesen struggle every other start, manager Buck Showalter for now can at least sit down in the dugout without having to pace back and forth every two out of five games.
And let’s not forget. Even with Arrieta struggling Saturday night, the Rangers came into Saturday as the league’s only undefeated team before Britton handcuffed their lineup.
They were the defending AL Champs for a reason, and a team that already had a potent lineup with MVP Josh Hamilton, Beltre, and one of the hottest hitters in the league in OF Nelson Cruz.
The O’s were competitive for the relative length of the series-at least until they threw Chris Jakubauskas to the wolves in Saturday’s late game to keep the rest of the bullpen fresh.
The Orioles also learned first-hand that Texas could also maybe have the best left-handed starting rotation in the league, and they didn’t even see C.J. Wilson.
Traveling to Yankee Stadium for the first time this season could be a big opportunity to prove they’re here for the long haul, especially with New York reeling after losing two of three to Boston, giving the Red Sox their first two wins of the year.
It’s another opportunity for the Orioles to break away from the pack in the AL East (with Toronto and the Yankees 1GB at 5-4) and put more quality wins on their resume building on the momentum of their early success.
We’ve seen the MASN commercial where Showalter says the Yankees and the Red Sox don’t get three runs to start off the game.
Let’s see how that goes with Tillman, likely Bergesen, and Arrieta slated to start the three games in the Bronx.
It’s true…the Yankees can’t start off the game with three runs like Showalter said, but with the home team batting in the bottom of the inning combined with the way Tillman, Bergesen, and Arrieta all pitched in their last starts, the Bronx Bombers could very well get three runs by the start of the second inning.
And if the Orioles are to lose the series to the Yankees, let’s do it the way the team has played in eight of the nine games this year where the Orioles didn’t throw in the towel-or as my colleague Drew Forrester says-“don’t lay down on their back like Paris Hilton and just take it”.
Plus, the Orioles need every win they can take before taking on the powerhouse Cleveland Indians (7-2 record, 2nd best in MLB) this weekend.
Can’t look past the Yankees because of the anticipation of taking on those “winners” in Cleveland.