In the past it seemed that the Orioles would start out hot for a month or so, only to go crashing down to the bottom of the standings by June or so. It seemed that it was always something small that would come up and send them into a downward spiral. In 2007 it was the “Mother’s Day Massacre” in which the Red Sox scored five runs in the last of the ninth to beat the O’s at Fenway. In 2005 it was the Rafael Palmeiro positive steroid test. However we haven’t seen that kind of negative catalyst as of yet this season; quite the contrary in fact. The current version of the Birds seems to have a lot more moxie about them than was the case in the past.
After any loss there seems to be uneasiness among the fan base as they wonder if that ends up being the end of it all. Yet the Orioles have always bounced back. After losing Friday night, the Orioles came back and beat Oakland pretty bad last night…and that’s being polite. I’ve always said that in sports whenever someone gets blown out it’s never indicative of the capabilities of either side. However a 10-1 win is probably what one might expect of a first place team against a team in the middle of the pack. I still have to throw in the disclaimer that it’s very early; yet at some point that won’t be the case.
To me the big story of the night was Wei-Yin Chen pitching seven innings…solid innings at that. Chen’s final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Chen is breaking the mold of pitchers who have come from the Japanese league in that he’s pitching deeper into games. There’s also something to be said for a pitcher that can hit his marks as consistently as Chen, and only give up six hits (including a solo homer). That tells me that his pitches are doing things in the strike zone that aren’t being anticipated by hitters, which is a good sign. Luis Ayala came in and pitched two innings in relief of Chen giving up one hit and striking out a batter.
The key moment in the game was the second inning when the O’s put up five runs. The best part about that was that none of those runs came on homers. In fact, only one of the Orioles runs last night came on a homer (Chris Davis’ moon shot onto Eutaw St in the last of the 7th). The other nine runs the Orioles put up were manufactured. What was that about Oriole bats being silent that I said last week? When you can continually keep scoring run after run on base hit after base hit, you’re not only helping your team’s cause but you’re also killing the other team’s pitching. For those that didn’t see the game, that’s pretty much what the Orioles did last night.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the Orioles unveiled the first of their legends’ statues in the left field picnic area last night, this one for Frank Robinson. I’m a huge fan of how the O’s are honoring their past this year, and quite honestly I think that something of this nature is long overdue. Distinguished attendees included Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Bill Russell, and Hank Aaron.
The O’s will go for a series victory this afternoon at the yard; a win would also give them a 5-1 home stand as they get set to hit the road for NY and Boston this week. Tommy Hunter gets the starting nod this afternoon, coming off of a 2-1 victory over Toronto last week. He’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Bartolo Colon, who I’m starting to think is eternal. As I said, they’ll head to NY and Boston this week, and that will begin a brutal month of May in terms of strength of schedule. If these Birds are truly for real, we’ll find out in the next 30 days or so.
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