Through the first 81 games of the 2014 season, the Baltimore Orioles were barely maintaining an above .500 record. At that time they stood at 42-39 and were hovering around two to four games over .500 the entire season. However, that all changed when the Texas Rangers came to town to start a four-game series.
In the first game of the series, you knew something special was happening. The Orioles were victorious 7-1 and Ubaldo Jimenez grabbed his first win in Camden Yards. Fans are hoping it’s the first of many.
The Orioles went on to sweep the Rangers in the four-game series, outscoring them 26-10. They bumped their record up to 36-29 and found themselves tied for first place in the AL East division.
After taking two out of three from the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, the Orioles are atop the division 89 games through the season. This is the first time they have been in first place this late in the season since 1997. Boy, that year has seemed to come up quite a bit the last couple of years, hasn’t it?
The O’s defeated the Washington Nationals 8-2 Monday night, putting them nine games over .500, a season-high. Even better news is that they are three games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the division. Just two weeks ago they were 5.5 games out. What a difference seven days can make.
That’s right – All-Star catcher Matt Wieters is done for the year, the team’s two best players in 2013 (Chris Davis and Manny Machado) have struggled mightily this year, they couldn’t find a closer until two months into the season, the pitcher they gave a four-year deal (Ubaldo Jimenez) had an ERA of over 7.00 in the first month of the season … and they’re in first place. Two words: Orioles magic.
One thing that I didn’t mention in the list above is how the Orioles have never gone on a big winning streak so far this season. That’s pretty amazing because very few first place teams this late in the season have failed to go on a big hot streak.
They have never had a winning streak of five or better. They have just won seven out of the last eight and that is the hottest that they have gotten the entire season. They’ve had hot hitters, no doubt about it; but the team as a group has not gone on a winning streak yet… yet. That might all change in the coming week.
Machado has started to find his grove, Davis has been hitting home runs, Steve Pearce has turned into Babe Ruth, Chris Tillman is settling back in and Kevin Gausman is showing his potential. Things are looking good for the O’s. If things hold up (except for the Steve Pearce part, because no one’s Babe Ruth), the results will be good for the O’s.
The lineup has been what it was supposed to be – one of the best in baseball, and the rotation has been what it was supposed to be – solid and good enough to get by. Zach Britton and Darren O’Day have led the bullpen all season, and they have done a fine job.
The Orioles still have six more games against the Nats and the New York Yankees before the All-Star break . If they can somehow win five of those and end the first half of the season winning 13 of 15, I would consider that a hot streak.
The Baltimore Orioles are finally clicking. That’s great news for Orioles fans but terrible news for fans of other teams. Baseball fans, watch out; because here come the Orioles.