The Ravens are kicking off the 2012 season and I can’t take my eyes off the O’s. Pre-season football, Olympic beach volleyball and the Kardashian’s will have to wait, the Orioles are must see TV! I spent 5-hours with my new love Tuesday night and they were worth every minute of it. Sure Zach Britton and clumsy defense didn’t make for a good opening act, the home team was down 5-0, later 7-2.
Time to turn on the Olympics or check out the Yankees and Tigers? Don’t you dare touch that dial, these are Buck Showalter’s never say die Birds. And here they come like Secretariat down the stretch. A couple of Matt Wieters bombs here, a Quintanilla RBI there, and wait a minute a JJ Hardy a 3-run shot, how about that! down 7-2 the battlin’ Birds score 4 in the 7th to tie the game at 7. And that’s how it stayed for about a week and a half, actually it was 7 innings.
The Orioles bullpen was it’s usual fantastic self, then in the bottom of the 14th the O’s got a controversial call at 1st base, a nice bunt from JJ Hardy and a walk-off screaming base hit to right from Adam Jones. Good night everybody, please drive safely.
This isn’t a great team by a long shot but they are doing amazing things. They’ve won 12 straight extra inning games and 11 straight one run games. That’s why they’re legit for a wild card spot and the first place Yankees can see them creeping up in the rear view mirror. In my 33 years of covering the Orioles I haven’t seen a team like this one.
Consider this, they’re the worst fielding team in baseball. They’re among MLB’s worst when it comes to striking out and hitting into double plays. And they can’t run a lick. If starting pitching is the name of the game they come up more than a little short with only 2 consistent starters and one of those just had knee surgery. Add it up and you can see why the Orioles are the only contending team that has been outscored by their opponents (they’re minus 54 runs).
But it’s not smoke and mirrors it’s grinding it out night after night, the ability to hit home runs and have maybe the best bullpen in baseball. At least 3 times this summer they’ve been on life support only to win a big game or series to get back in the race. The final chapter on the 2012 Orioles hasn’t been written but until it is I can’t take my eyes off Buck’s Birds.