BirdsWatcher readers – let’s think about a few things together. I’m writing this late on Tuesday night after the Orioles’ 1-0 win over the Rays in the 161st game of the season … but let me ask you to consider a short list of some totally unbelievable things that have happened this year.
If on opening day in April you were told that going into the final game of the season the following statements would be true, which would you choose as the MOST unbelievable?
1. The Orioles will be 73-0 when having the lead after seven innings.
The first thing that would have been unbelievable about this is that there were 73 games where the Orioles had a lead after seven innings! But, that aside, it is an incredible statistic! And though there was reason to believe in Spring Training that the Bird’s bullpen was going to be above average, Johnson was struggling, and a number of the others were far from what we now know them to be. Corollary stats are that the Orioles are 29-9 in one-run games and of course have the 16 consecutive extra inning victories.
2. Miguel Gonzalez will be 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA.
Who? What Gonzalez is this? Unless you were a total junkie of the transactions wire, you’d never know who this guy was and where he had come from. As we could say of quite a number of Orioles players, the team would not be where they are right now if it were not for the contributions of this previously unheard of emotional flat-liner.
3. Chris Davis will have 33 home runs and be batting 3rd in the lineup and carrying the Orioles over the final several series of the season.
The guy strikes out a lot! The only streakier hitter ever seen in an Orioles uniform was Luke Scott. But Chris Davis is a big-time beast of a hitter. The monster shot of this evening that scored the only run of the game was impressive for sure, but I’ll never forget being at an Orioles game early in the season where he hit a homer with a portion of the broken bat flying into the dugout!
4. The Boston Red Sox will be the most pitiful team in the AL East, and arguably the worst team in the entire league.
It is true. Pitifully awful! They screwed up the chance to beat the Yankees tonight by blowing a 3-1 lead in the 9th, losing in the 12th. Presuming they will lose again tomorrow – which is sadly almost certain – they will finish the season by losing 12 of 13, posting a record of 69-93 (the same record as the 2011 Orioles whom they mocked).
5. The end of the season ace for the Orioles – pitching the 162nd game to hopefully force a divisional playoff with the Yankees – will be Chris Tillman with a 9-2 record and 2.78 ERA.
Though Tillman had a good spring, he pitched at AAA Norfolk until July 4th against Seattle – when he pitched 8.1 innings of two-hit ball! Here is another guy who, without him, the Orioles are not positioned where they are for the playoffs.
6. Entering the last game of the year, the Orioles will not know if their first playoff game will be against New York, Texas, or Oakland. (As I write this, Oakland is winning the west coast game against Texas – looking to tie them going into the season finale.)
First of all, nobody REALLY imagined that the Orioles would be making any sort of playoffs! But the dual scenarios of the AL East and West Divisions both coming down to the final game of the season is more dramatic than the wildest wish of the Commissioner of Baseball sitting on the lap of Santa Claus last Christmas.
7. The Orioles will win the 161st game of the year in Tampa while getting only two base hits and striking out 15 times in nine innings.
Hearing in April that the Orioles would strike out 15 times in a game would not have been very unbelievable. At times, the Birds have led the baseball universe in strikeouts. But to win the game with only two hits … well … just another miracle du jour.
I’ll pause while you rank the seven items …
OK … how did you rank them? I’ll grant that there could be some debate, but here is my ranking (the correct one, mind you – I’m the professional here!) …… 2,1,5,6,7,3,4. So, I put the lousy Red Sox as the least surprising item of the entire list. I truthfully did think they were going to have a terrible season – might have even predicted them to finish last in the division – but they are worse than my imagination could … well … imagine! So, Red Sox Nation, does that offend you? Oh well … win a game tomorrow and maybe I’ll say something nice about your team.
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