The Baltimore Orioles are fun again!
If an oracle had come to tell you before the season that the O’s would be flirting with .500 AND the final AL Wild Card position, I wouldn’t have blamed you for laughing. How could a team that lost 110 games in 2021, with a 2022 payroll lower than Max Scherzer’s salary this season, possibly pull that off?
Late inning heroics and a heaping tablespoon of Orioles Magic.
The Baltimore Orioles didn’t lose a single game last week and remain the hottest team in Major League Baseball, with an eight game win streak alive and well headed into their trip to Chicago to face the Cubs at Wrigley Field. As of Sunday evening, they sit just 2.5 games out of the final Wild Card position, four games behind Boston and three behind Tampa Bay; a remarkable turnaround for which the players, manager Brandon Hyde, and the front office deserve credit and praise.
Baltimore Orioles have a knack for the heroics
Last week had no shortage of drama that would take even the most stoic of Orioles fans on an emotional roller coaster ride, starting with Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers with a 7-6 win, the seventh run coming from a Jorge Mateo walk-off hit by pitch.
The following night Texas tied the game in the seventh inning, again in the eighth, and took a 9-8 lead in the top of the ninth before the Orioles decided that enough was enough. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Rougned Odor launched a ball into orbit, and Cedric Mullins (again) sent Camden Yards home happy in the 10th with another walk-off.
The series finale against the Rangers and the first game against the Angels went relatively normally, but the magic was back on Friday night. Down three runs in the ninth with two outs and their last four hitters down to their last strike, the improbable happened: Adley Rutschman delivered a pinch hit double to bring the Orioles within one.
Cedric Mullins tied the game on a flare to center field. Then, Trey Mancini stepped to the plate:
Are you not entertained?!
Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers are stepping up
The Orioles starting pitchers have performed admirably in the absence of John Means, and that continued this week. Spenser Watkins, who rejoined the team in late June after a stint in Norfolk, spun 6.2 frames of 1 run ball against the Rangers last Wednesday.
Dean Kremer hit a speed bump in his start against Texas but returned to form against the Angels; Kremer completed five shutout innings, struck out seven, and earned his third win of 2022 as a result. Jordan Lyles threw 6 innings and allowed 1 run on Thursday.
Opener-turned-starter Austin Voth got through 5 innings at long last and picked up his first win of the year. In total, O’s starters pitched 41.2 innings to the tune of a 3.46 ERA.
Despite prominent graduation, the Baltimore Orioles still rank highly on MLB Pipeline's newest list, with two players in the top five.
Baltimore Orioles closer Jose López gets his flowers
It must have been an emotional week for Jorge López. The Orioles closer came into July having not allowed an earned run since May 19th and his ERA less than a single run, but unfortunately that was soon to change as López allowed home runs in three consecutive starts and blew three consecutive save opportunities to begin the month.
There was concern that this may be the beginning of a downward swing; his home run rate was four times lower than his career average, which didn’t seem sustainable. López quelled those concerns with the quickness though, recording three saves in four days with relative ease.
The cherry on top of this week was assuredly Sunday after the game when he was informed that he would be representing the Orioles in the All-Star Game.
By all accounts, López is a wonderful human being in addition to a flame-throwing pitcher and you can’t help but feel happy for him considering the adversity he’s faced throughout his career. Cheers to Jorge!
After several years of bad baseball, the last week (and really the last month) has been galvanizing for the Baltimore Orioles and Orioles fans. We’re emotionally invested in each pitch again. We’re looking forward to the next game again. Most importantly, we’re having fun again.