The big first semester test for the Orioles is over. Everyone looked at this schedule and saw the huge 15-game stretch in May of games against the Red Sox (3), Yankees (5), Rangers (4), and Rays (3). Surely this would be the death of the Birds – with orange and black feathers around a bloody carcass. Nope! The Orioles finish this stretch at 9-6, which equals 60%. Now, you don’t want to get 60% on your college exams, but in the world of baseball, this is a good number.
A winning percentage of .600 extended over the entire season would translate to a final season record of 97-65 – surely good enough for the playoffs. The Orioles are now 23-14. Were the Orioles to win 60% of their remaining games, the final record would be 98-64.
All of this is to say that 60% is commendable – especially against the best teams in the league … especially when many roster moves are of necessity made … especially when the doubters said at the onset of this stretch that this would surely be the beginning of the end. It turns out that it is really just the end of the beginning!
The Orioles’ final question on the 15-part exam was to find a way to beat Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia. Actually, you’d expect to get double credit for getting this correct. It only counts as one win, but a win it was at 5-2. Wei-Yin Chen was simply outstanding – having the Yankees off balance all evening.
The Orioles are winning many games by doing a lot of little things well. An example this evening was Robert Andino in the bottom of the 6th. With runners on first and second base, he hit a chopper and legged it out with his good speed to load the bases. Then, with two outs, Hardy drills a hard ground ball up the middle to Cano who bobbled it briefly. Andino’s speed and hustle beat the throw to Jeter, and the Orioles were able to add a critical 4th tack-on run.
Extra Thoughts …
Granderson hit a 7th inning homer that made it just barely out of the stadium in left field. Xavier Avery went up for the ball and looked to have been able to catch it were it not for fan interference – by….. (wait for it … ), yes, Yankees fans! Ugh! It was a wee flashback to Jeff Maier, who in 1996 in New York deflected a ball in the first game of the Yankees/Orioles playoff game – affecting not only the game, but the whole series.
Does it get much better than seeing Nick Swisher line into two outs, hit into a double play, and misplay a line drive over his head? About the only thing I can think of more sweet than that would be seeing it happen to Youkilis.
It was good to hear the Orioles fans shout down the “let’s go Yankees” chants.
Strop walked the first two guys in the top of the 8th – getting a groundout from Swisher and a double play ball from Cano …… more proof that God loves the Orioles!
I owe an apology to the umpires! Yes, I recently referred to them as “the Yankees’ willing accomplices in blue.” Honestly, a number of close calls went more toward the Orioles than the Evil Empire tonight.