Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Intelligent Conversation

Optimism remains as surprising Orioles survive brutal 15-game stretch

Must Read

Coming off bye, Ravens excited to have new piece against old rival

Reunited in Baltimore, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 61 sacks in Jacksonville from 2017-19.

Campbell talks being reunited with former Jacksonville teammate Ngakoue

The Ravens defensive lineman sees the pass rush becoming even more dangerous with another prominent option in the mix.

Andrews on Pittsburgh week: “This is what you live for right here”

The Ravens will have the chance to take down the last undefeated team of 2020.
Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

It was just over two weeks ago when emotions were flying high following Wilson Betemit’s game-winning three-run homer to complete a dramatic ninth-inning comeback against the Oakland Athletics.

The win put the Orioles at 14-8 and in a tie for first place in the American League East. But, what awaited next would presumably be the reality check to knock the club and fans off their early-season pedestal.

The eternal optimists and pessimists alike knew the next 15 games against New York, Boston, Texas, and Tampa Bay would paint a clearer — but by no means definitive — picture of who the 2012 Orioles really were early in the season. Most paying close attention to the last decade-plus of Baltimore baseball figured the good vibes of April would turn to uneasiness by the time the middle of May rolled around.

Instead, the Orioles’ 5-2 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday not only salvaged a split in a brief two-game series but  capped a 9-6 record over the brutal stretch. Instead of potentially finding themselves below the .500 mark and in the familiar basement of the division as many feared two weeks ago, the Orioles stand at 23-14 and are still tied for first place — deadlocked with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Making the feat even more impressive was the amount of turbulence the Orioles experienced along the way. Outfielders Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez, infielder Mark Reynolds, and relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom landed on the 15-day disabled list. Two extra-inning games in Boston left the bullpen taxed and injuries began surfacing, forcing executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to make 22 individual roster moves over a seven-day period last week.

Two weeks ago, who would have predicted Bill Hall, Steve Tolleson, and Xavier Avery would comprise the bottom third of the lineup in Tuesday’s win over CC Sabathia? If you did, you certainly wouldn’t have expected the Orioles to remain atop the division.

Yet, the cracks in the armor are impossible to ignore. In addition to the injuries, the pitching that had carried the Orioles through the first five weeks of the season looks vulnerable, both in the rotation and in the bullpen.

Starters Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been the biggest surprises of the young season, but Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Tommy Hunter need to find more consistency to pitch deeper into games and stabilize the rotation. Otherwise, a bullpen that’s been outstanding through the first six weeks of the season will continue to wear down and become less effective as the seasons progresses.

The infield defense at the corners continues to be abysmal as manager Buck Showalter hasn’t found a viable duo at first and third on which he can rely. The poor defense has put unnecessary strain on young starting pitchers on top of their struggles on the mound.

Even with those warning signs, the Orioles continue to win and haven’t suffered more than two consecutive losses since the second series of the season when the Yankees swept a three-game series in Baltimore.

There’s no disputing the Orioles have benefited from the injuries hammering Boston, New York, and Tampa Bay in the division. In order to compete, we knew Baltimore would not only need to exceed expectations but those divisional opponents would have to come back to the pack a bit.

Through May 15, that’s exactly what’s happened.

Unlike those clubs, however, the Orioles aren’t capable of overcoming shaky starting pitching, poor defense, and more injuries. Their margin for error simply isn’t high enough in the toughest division in baseball.

Resiliency has been the keyword of the 2012 season through 37 games, and it’s found the Orioles in an unfamiliar position of prosperity.

Will it continue?

As was the case on the day of that walk-off win against Oakland, no one knows, but with every game and every series and every difficult stretch in which the Orioles find a way to get the job done, they recruit more and more believers.

Including themselves.

1 COMMENT

  1. So once again a yankee prick of a fan tried to interfere with the outcome of the game . They should have been tossed out. Yankee fans should have to pay double to get in & they wear a muzzle. They are without a doubt the nastiset obnoxious loud mouth foul mouth fans in baseball. The people of New York are great but the scumbags that come to games have the I.Q. of the number of their toes.

Comments are closed.

Latest News

Coming off bye, Ravens excited to have new piece against old rival

Reunited in Baltimore, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 61 sacks in Jacksonville from 2017-19.

Campbell talks being reunited with former Jacksonville teammate Ngakoue

The Ravens defensive lineman sees the pass rush becoming even more dangerous with another prominent option in the mix.

Andrews on Pittsburgh week: “This is what you live for right here”

The Ravens will have the chance to take down the last undefeated team of 2020.

Harbaugh expects Ngakoue to practice for Ravens on Wednesday

The Baltimore coach is excited to have a new pass rusher in the mix.

A week off before seeing the Steelers can only help Ravens

After a choppy effort in Philadelphia, our resident money expert Leonard Raskin weighs in the value of some rest and bye week before Pittsburgh comes to town undefeated.

More Articles Like This