With their 9-5 win in the series finale at Oakland, the Baltimore Orioles again did something they haven’t done since 1997: clinched a winning season. Again, this team has loftier goals than just finishing over .500. However needless to say this should be viewed as a big deal if not by the players, by the fans. But let’s also keep in mind that many of these players have never won; at least those who’ve been with the Orioles for their entire careers to say the least. So this should feel especially good for them, again as well as for the fans. I have several twitter followers who are too young to have ever seen or remembered a winning Oriole team. Those are the people for whom I feel really good this morning. Now they know what it’s like.
Randy Wolf made his first start since August (when he was a Milwaukee Brewer), and he settled down after a tough first inning. Josh Reddick again torched the Birds with a two-run homer in the last of the first to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. But once again let’s not forget that these are the Fighting Showalters; they don’t give up. That was evident when Matt Wieters sent a pitch deep to right and out of the park in the top of the second. Endy Chavez would later score from third on an infield hit, and suddenly the game was tied.
It was Matt Wieters who got the Orioles’ rally started, and it was he who have them the lead for good with a second homer in the fourth. The Birds would add on several other runs on a few hits and they even walked in a couple of runs. Oakland would tag on two more on a Drew homer in the last of the eighth and again on a Josh Reddick RBI-single in the ninth. However these Birds wouldn’t be denied a third time in Oakland, and in winning their 82nd game they paid homage to the humble roots of this storied franchise. Being the first group since 1997 to finish above .500 is noteworthy for any franchise, but especially one that had so much success years ago only to fall on tough times of late.
Wolf only pitched four innings despite settling down after the first inning and despite only throwing 72 pitches. Tommy Hunter provided an inning of work, and Brian Matusz was credited with the win with two innings of work. Pedro Strop struggled a bit in the last of the ninth causing Buck Showalter to bring in closer Jim Johnson for one out of work. Strop’s had command issues for the better part of two or three weeks, and it’s unclear if and adjustments are being made internally as a result.
So while this team dropped two-of-three in Oakland, they moved onto Seattle last night with a little bit of wind in their sails after clinching a winning record. Again, their goals are loftier than just having a winning record, and if they were to finish 82-80 they’d view it as an epic failure. However it’s a benchmark that’s certainly noteworthy, and worth mentioning. Chris Tillman will return to the rotation after a minor injury in his last time out, and pitch tonight in Seattle. He’ll be opposed by Hector Noesi, who was 2-11 before being sent back to triple-A. Seattle gave him a September call-up, and he’ll pitch against Tillman tonight. This series in Seattle has trap written all over it, as Seattle will be playing the role of spoiler. The O’s need to ensure that the better team wins the game.