Baltimore Orioles: Trial by fire
For the time being, the Orioles have the best record in baseball at 19-9 (by virtue of the Washington Nationals losing to Philadelphia in last night’s Sunday night game). In case you woke up from a long slumber this morning and don’t know what happened yesterday, the O’s swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time since 1994. However the story of course was the fact that the finale went 17 innings and first baseman Chris Davis was the winning pitcher. So now the dead tired Orioles, who got home much later than they expected and who used every reliever on the roster (and then some) yesterday, return home and get to play the Texas Rangers.
Texas is considered the AL’s best team (even though the O’s have a better record). The O’s appear to be on a quest to return to the American League’s elite; it seems that the schedule and now circumstances are fighting them tooth and nail. However in a way I suppose that’s part of the deal. When you’ve been down for so long why should they step out and hand it to you? Like many people, I’m cautiously waiting to see how the team gets through the grueling month of May before saying that they’re for real. However so far so good.
The O’s will send Brian Matusz to the mound tonight off of a superior effort in NY last week. He’ll be opposed by Matt Harrison of the Rangers, who’s last outing against Toronto was rocky. In his past two starts, Harrison has allowed 22 hits and 14 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. That might be a good omen for an Oriole team that’s going to need all the breaks it can get coming into this game. As I said, due to the extra innings game the O’s didn’t get home last night until much later than originally anticipated, and they have to be back at the ballpark this afternoon for tonight’s game.
The Orioles are expected to make a roster move before tonight’s game to help shore up the pitching staff, purchasing the contract of reliever Stu Pomeranz from triple-A Norfolk (potentially sending catcher Luis Exposito down). This is a move that will be made out of necessity more so than anything else. Ironically, Norfolk played a doubleheader yesterday, potentially limiting the availability of their pitchers as well. However Pomeranz didn’t appear in either game, so he’s fresh. It’s unclear if he’d be the first guy out of the bullpen or how Showalter would expect to use the ‘pen tonight, however I think it’s a pretty good bet that he’ll play at some point.
Texas comes in at 18-10 after yesterday’s loss in Cleveland. Luckily for the Orioles, rookie phenom Yu Darvish pitched yesterday so the O’s won’t see him during the series this week. However there’s a bit more than meets the eye; Texas is still a good team with great pitching. This is all part of the trial by fire that the Orioles are going through as we speak. If they can make it through this stretch in good shape, this team has a legitimate shot at making something of itself this year. However even if they stumble a bit at some point (which might be inevitable given the length of the season), they’ve still made their point to the league. With the grit, bravado, and professionalism that they’ve shown thus far in 2012, the Orioles are at least trying to serve notice to the rest of baseball that “We’re Back.”
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