Normally I try to remove myself from the Baltimore Orioles fan base in a sense in penning this column. By that, I mean that I want to provide in depth coverage of the team for readers; in doing so you really can’t show too much of a hometown bias. With that said, I’ll step away from that for just a moment this morning. With yesterday’s 3-2 win over Tampa the O’s won their 81st game, thus guaranteeing a .500 or better season for the first time since 1997. As I said yesterday, this team has much higher goals than .500. But make no mistake about the fact that it’s an important plateau for this franchise.
This game was very similar to the one Wednesday night aside from the fact that it didn’t end in the 9th inning. Wei-Yin Chen provided the Birds with a great start; Chen’s line: 7.1 UP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K. However by the end of the game I think most people had probably forgotten that Chen had even started the game. Yet he put the team in a position to win, which is all you can ask of a starter on a daily basis. We did see one of the more bizzare things you’ll ever see in baseball, which is a manager bringing in a reliever to pinch-hit. Ryan Roberts fouled a pitch off of himself, and Tampa manager Joe Maddon brought in reliever Chris Archer to finish the at-bat in the 11th inning. I suppose if you’re out of position players you only have so many options.
In the last of the 13th the O’s loaded the bases with nobody out, but after a force out at the plate Archer got Matt Wieters and Nate McLouth to strike out. Buck Showalter brought in Randy Wolf to pitch to Matt Joyce with two outs and two on. In the last of the inning the O’s recorded two quick outs before Adam Jones walked. Endy Chavez sent an opposite-field single to left field, and the O’s suddenly had runners in scoring position. This brought Manny Machado to the plate…
…and perhaps it’s fitting that a guy that’s seen as a huge part of the Orioles’ future would have an opportunity to officially end the 14 consecutive losing seasons. However Buck Showalter gave Machado, a rookie, the green light on a three-ball count, and Machado sent a blooper towards left. Matt Joyce made a valiant effort in left field, but he trapped the ball. Jones scampered home, and the Orioles had their 81st win. The Orioles headed out to Oakland after the game yesterday, where Joe Saunders will open up the series on the bump tomorrow night against Tommy Milone of the Oakland A’s. It’s another huge series with major playoff implications for the Orioles, who at this point are used to a challenge.
Orioles fans have taken a lot of abuse over the years. And by that I mean A LOT of abuse. Heading to their own ballpark and feeling like the visitor time and time again when teams such as Boston or NY would come to town, and just having to watch the O’s act as a conduit to the success of others has been trying. Many people wondered when the bleeding would stop, and what it would take to stop it. Most people offered answers such as “when Peter Angelos sells the team.” However my point has always been that the owner isn’t out there playing the games and so forth. But now we have a definitive answer to that question: 2012. So to the faithful that stayed faithful all of these years and watched other team’s fans enter and take over our beautiful yard, I say to you today, that we’ve won. We’ve won the war, because they couldn’t keep this franchise down any longer. They couldn’t keep the people of the great city of Baltimore down continually, and in the end the good guys came out on top. That doesn’t mean that the Orioles can stop fighting, however…we’ve won.