It was heavenly night for a pitcher who’s had a hellish season. Yes, that Ubaldo Jimenez was very good and got the pennant clinching win as the O’s punched their post-season dance card. The unlikely winning pitcher with the nights unlikely hitting stars Steve Pierce, Jimmy Paredes and Alejandro De Aza. Wouldn’t have guessed that on Opening day would you?

The original script called for Wieters, Machado and Davis but so many have contributed so much to this T-E-A-M. When Tommy Hunter recorded the game’s final out the Orioles celebrated the AL East title while many of their fans celebrated the third anniversary of born-again baseball in Baltimore.

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You can’t do special things without special players like Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Chris Tillman, but make no mistake Buck Showalter is the main reason winning baseball is back in Baltimore. He’s Billy Martin without the demons, Earl Weaver with people skills and Jim Leyland without the smoke. Buck came to our town at the optimum time for him and us. We probably needed him more than he needed us but this was a win-win.

A younger Buck may not have had the patience or “want to” navigating the huge pot holes 14 years of losing baseball had created. He dug in from day one and slowly changed the culture of the clubhouse, the organization and how this town felt about its once proud team. He got the support he needed from Peter Angelos and a skilled GM in Dan Duquette together they’ve built the AL East’s top team over the last 3 years.

It was a beautiful sight after the final out, a delirious orange clad crowd celebrated the third year of born again Baltimore baseball. There were tears, beers, champagne and Adam Jones slinging pies in everybody’s eyes. While players and coaches hugged it out on the field the manager stood alone in the dugout. He’d hug and congratulate his guys later, now was their time and like a proud father, he just wanted to soak it all in.

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How good are the AL East Champs? The numbers don’t lie; the Birds have won 91 games with 11 left on the regular season schedule. Since the Orioles won their last World Series in 1983 they’ve played 31 seasons with only 2 other Baltimore teams winning at least 90 games.

Davey Johnson’s 1997 Orioles went wire to wire and won 98 games before they were eliminated by Cleveland in the ALCS. Buck’s 2012 Orioles won 93 games and the Wild Card Game in Texas before they were edged 3 games to 2 by the Yankees in the Division Series. Yes, Buck’s 2014 Birds are good, October will determine if they’re great.
 


 

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