With the Orioles securing an 8-2 Saturday night win over the Toronto Blue Jays, they have now equaled their 2011 season total of 69 victories. There are yet 36 games to play in this season. There can be NO DOUBT but that a new wind is blowing through Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
At the risk of continuously writing and talking about the same themes over and over, it remains amazing that this team has been able to accomplish all that they have with the varieties of lineups and personnel used. The Orioles have now used a total of 43 different players – 20 position players and 23 pitchers. I have never in my many years of closely watching baseball seen a team win at this level with such a revolving door of personnel. Usually, the variety leads to the opposite result (see Toronto Blue Jays or Boston Red Sox).
Steve Johnson pitched a very fine game this evening by giving up only 2 runs over his 6 innings. Those runs came on one swing by Edwin Encarnacion upon what was probably the ugliest pitch I’ve seen an Oriole make this year – a hanging change that really, really hung! But other than that, Johnson worked well at the bottom of the strike zone. If only Tommy Hunter could do the same! However, even though Hunter throws a bit harder, Johnson’s ball has greater movement. There does not seem to be any reason to not have Johnson now in the rotation. Who would have thunk it?!
J.J. Hardy had a fantastic game that brought back memories of so many in his fabulous 2011 season. He had a single, double, and homer … and the double was but inches from hitting the fair pole or foul pole (you say “po-tay-toe,” I say “po-tah-toe.”). If Hardy could get hot and go on a tear – oh, what that could do to carry this team through this critical final 20% of the season! The same could be said for Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds. And were all three to peak at the same time … that would indeed be a playoff team!
It often seems for the Orioles that if it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all! But the Birds were much helped by some shoddy Jays defense early in the game. As well, some ground balls found their way between the infielders, and the race was on! This was the sort of game we really hoped to see a lot of this year – yes, power … but also a plethora of hits all over the field.
Extra Note #1 – Over the last decade, I’ve found myself hating the Jays more than even the Yankees and Red Sox. I think it is because the latter two teams are truly filled with great players (at least the Sox were before yesterday’s trade!), but the Jays seemed to thrash the Orioles even worse! I almost felt sorry for them tonight – they look soooo awful! But … nah! Any team that tries three times to steal off Wieters deserves to get thrashed themselves!
Extra Note #2 – Is anyone else as annoyed as I am about certain fans who sit in the lower level on the 3rd base side? They are in the background of TV shots looking at right-handed batters from the 1st base dugout. And every time the red light goes on for that camera, there they are waving and calling someone on their cell phone to say, “Hey, look at me on TV dude!” Really? Get a life! Or do you think I’m just cranky?