Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and Chris Tillman know their way around the Baltimore Beltway. They are core players in the re-birth of Orioles teams that have been to the post-season 2 of the last 3 years and over those 3 years has the best record in the AL East.
Those core players may stir the drink but the glass might be empty if it wasn’t for so many new faces that have made the 2014 season a special one. The Orioles game 1 lineup against the Tigers was a reminder of the many new ingredients that Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette have added to this five-star meal.
Catcher—Nick Hundley came to Baltimore from the Padres in late May after Matt Wieters hit the DL. Hundley and Caleb Joseph have solidified the most important defensive position on the field. Chris Tillman’s main man delivered an RBI in game 1.
1st Base — Steve Pierce has been cut more times than the Bayonne Bleeder. The Orioles cut him on April 22nd, thank God he turned down an offer from the Blue Jays and re-signed with Baltimore. Pierce has enjoyed a career year with 21 homers and a batting average near .300. His 2 hits in game one included a shot off the top of the left field wall.
2nd Base — Jonathan Schoop (AKA Johnny Baseball) answered the off-season question who’s on second? The rookie hit 16 homers and was better than advertised with the glove at 2nd base. In Game 1 against the Tigers, Schoop had a pair of hits and 2 RBI’s.
3rd Base — Buck is quick to point out that Ryan Flaherty can help the club at 6 different positions. The “Human Band-Aid” is holding down the hot corner currently. Rock solid at 3rd base in game 1 he also delivered an RBI.
Left Field— Alejandro De Aza didn’t make his Oriole debut until September 2nd. He provides a much needed left-handed bat, speed and defense. He delivered a pair of hits and RBI’s in game 1.
DH —- Nelson Cruz was voted 2014 Most Valuable Oriole after his first season in Baltimore. His All-Star season included a ML leading 40 homers and he was third in the majors with 108 RBI’s. Cruz hit a home run on Opening day and he opened the ALDS with a homer and 3 RBI’s against the Tigers. Where would the Birds be without O’s Nellie?
Bullpen — Lefty Andrew Miller helps make it one of the best in baseball. Acquired from the Red Sox on July 31 Miller has been a lights out strikeout machine. He’s an equal opportunity K-man punching out left and right-handed hitters at an alarmingly high rate. He punched out 3 Tigers in less than 2 innings in game 1.
Buck’s 2014 Birds are an interesting mix of old and new, they’ve lost some key pieces on the journey but they haven’t blinked thanks to those productive new faces.
Related Stories – Baltimore Orioles:
[display-posts category=“orioles” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=“4”]