They say Baseball’s a funny game… Here’s another example why! By the time August came around in the 2010 MLB season, the Baltimore Orioles were the laughing-stock of world baseball. They were the first team in the MLB to rule themselves out of play-off contention, they had a record of 32 wins and 73 losses, players, coaches and fans were disgruntled and all hope seemed lost. Something needed to change… That change came in the way of a new head coach, Buck Showalter.
Although way out of play-off contention, what transpired over the remainder of the season gave O’s fans all over the World a glimmer of hope heading into the 2011 season. This hope was fueled by a record of 34 wins and 23 losses under Showalter, the best finish to the season in all of the American League. The question remained though, would this bubble burst by the time Spring Training and a new season rolled around?
Thankfully for O’s fans, 4 games into the 2011 season and it seems as though it’s more than beginners luck for Showlter’s new team. An improved Spring Training record of 15-15, superior to both American League East rivals the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, set the tone heading into the opening series against the Tampa Bay Rays and when the season proper came around, O’s starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was ready to make his mark. Guthrie, who has never fully lived up to his potential, threw 8 innings and only conceded the 1 run, whilst he was ably supported by Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis with the bat who both scored 2 RBI’s a piece in leading the O’s to an impressive 4-1 first up victory.
The second match of the series was a similar result with the O’s winning 3-1, largely thanks to Chris Tillman, who threw 6 hitless innings. Brian Roberts was again the star with the bat, scoring 3 RBI’s in his 2 hits for the game. Veteran Derrek Lee, playing his 1831st Major League Match also got a pair of hits.
Heading into the third and final match of the series, the O’s were looking to complete a rare clean-sweep against the Rays and a 5-1 win all but confirmed their series dominance. Zach Britton, making his MLB debut, threw 6 innings and like Guthrie, only conceded the 1 run. Four O’s scored multiple hits during the match with the bat, with Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy scoring 2 RBI’s apiece.
Then earlier today, the O’s recorded another impressive 5-1 victory,this time against the Detroit Tigers, with Markakis (3 hits) and Brian Roberts (3 RBI’s) starring with the bat, whilst Jake Arrieta starred on the mound whilst throwing 6 innings and only conceding the 1 run.
In addition to the four individual wins from the pitchers, the batting statistics are also looking impressive for many of the O’s, with Roberts scoring 8 RBI’s in 4 games, Markakis batting .429 including 6 hits and Matt Wiesters batting .385 with 5 hits.
The O’s are scheduled to complete Game 2 and 3 against the Tigers on Wednesday and Thursday and will be looking to continue their hot-streak. In a division which includes the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, it’s crucial to get a head start on their previously superior rivals if the play-off dream is to be achieved. Afterall, it’s now been 13 unsuccessful seasons since the O’s have seen play-off action and the positive vibes circulating through Baltimore after a ball game are a pleasant surprise!