Baltimore Orioles: A Year for Anniversaries
By C.R. Defuoco
The Baltimore Orioles have a lot to celebrate this year but will a Series Title be one of them?
The 2016 Baltimore Orioles have one of the strongest lineups they’ve had in recent years and are amped to have a successful year. The timing couldn’t be any better for a big year as the Orioles are also celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards establishment as a MLB ballpark.
It’s also the 50-year anniversary of the Orioles cartoon bird logo, making its original appearance in 1966 and reemerging in 2012 in time for Baltimore’s resurgence. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about the 2016 season. There are anniversaries that are the cause of celebration and some that remind us there is still work to be done. Unfortunately, this is also the 25th anniversary since the Orioles last no-hitter, meaning OPACY has never housed an Oriole no-hitter.
July 13th 1991, Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson combined to no-hit the Oakland Athletics. The last individual effort was on August 13th 1969 by Jim Palmer, also against the Oakland Athletics. If we disregard the combined effort, the Orioles are tied with the San Diego Padres for the longest active No-Hit drought of 57 years.
Call to the Pen
Why does this subject vex me so much? This drought just continues to remind me of the reasons why the Orioles haven’t been to the promise land since 1983. I’m not saying that a no-hitter somehow signifies that Baltimore will win a Series title but what I am saying is that it would signify some strength in the rotation.
The rotation last year was the Orioles Achilles heal but I don’t think that will be the case in 2016. I like our current pitching staff more than I have in the recent history. I expect Baltimore’s rotation to exceed expectations and come away with around 70 Wins this year and the bullpen will come away with the rest.
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It’s still up in the air who the Opening Day starter will be but I would guess Chris Tillman, assuming he can get over this core ailment and go on to have a strong Spring. If not Tillman than most likely Yovani Gallardo. Out of the five starters I actually feel Kevin Gausman will have the strongest season. The youngster is set to have a breakout season and finally show off what all the hype is about.
Last year Gausman worked out of the bullpen for most of the first half of the season meanwhile Bud Norris filled the starting spot. Although he got a start of June 20th it wasn’t until July 2nd that Gausman finally became part of the starting rotation and Bud Norris was sent to the bullpen and then later DFA’d once the Orioles made the trade for Gerardo Parra.
Twice in July Kevin pitched scoreless outings showing off what he’s capable of although his end of year stats weren’t as flashy. Last year Gausman went 4-7 with a 4.21 ERA in 112.1 Innings Pitched. If he’s able to really hone in on his skill set, he should be able to blow batters away with his high nineties fast ball and effective curve. 2016 will be the first full season the former first round draft pick will spend in the starting rotation.
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If Baltimore’s starting rotation puts on a strong performance this year, combined with their powerful offensive lineup, then there’s a good chance OPACY could see a World Series on its anniversary. Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see our no-hitter drought come to an end and give the stadium its first Oriole No-No while sporting the Cartoon Bird, which was around for the last. The Orioles play Oakland twice this year and historically they’re our favorite target to accomplish the feat and something tells me if it does happen it will be by the hand of Kevin Gausman.
Yes, I have high hopes for the team this year but I also believe we have the crew to get it done. 2012 began the Orioles rise to dominance and this could be the year to finally bring a title to OPACY and celebrate these Anniversaries the right way.