It is a beautiful thing to wake up on Labor Day, September 1st, and see the Baltimore Orioles leading the American League East by nine games! Even if nothing else goes well today, there is that!
On Sunday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles produced what is probably their second-best offensive-explosion game of the season, scoring 12 runs against the Minnesota Twins on a total of 18 base hits in a 12-8 victory. Back on April 8th against the Yankees, the Orioles tallied 14 runs on 20 hits. Just three weeks ago the O’s had another 12-run game against the Cardinals, though with only 15 hits.
But the bulk of the Orioles scoring came on the home run, as it so often does. Nelson Cruz scored the first run of the game with a solo shot, and Ryan Flaherty followed with a three-run homer onto the flag court. And J.J. Hardy appeared at the time to have broken open the game with a grand slam that was part of a seven-run sixth inning that opened to an11-2 lead.
But it was simply a hitters’ day, and the Orioles bullpen had an uncharacteristic meltdown. The Twins put together a total of six runs over the last three innings, even loading the bases and requiring the fire extinguishing talents of Zach Britton to get the final out—one that represented the tying run.
Even though the Minnesota Twins are 59-77, an incredible graphic was displayed on the Saturday night broadcast—stating that they were among the first teams in all of baseball in terms of outscoring opponents in innings seven through nine. Well, they can add more to that after Sunday, gaining six runs to only one from the Orioles.
One would think that such a large lead would be safe in anyone’s hands, even Ubaldo Jimenez. But coming on in relief and pitching just one-third of an inning, he set the forest ablaze with three walks and a hit. As I’ve written before, he makes “Captain Chaos” Kevin Gregg look like a precision pitcher.
Where can Ubaldo be safely used? Probably only in a game where the O’s have already been blown out, and that practically never happens. I’d say to just shut it down, try to address it in the calm of the offseason, and then come back next year as a different person.
The win leaves the Orioles with an incredible record of 79-56 and on pace to win 95 games. August was a great month for the O’s as they finished it 19-9. During July they were just as good at 17-8 (June – 16-12). In the month of August, the Orioles outscored their opponents 135 to 87.
The win percentages of July and August are reminiscent of the pace of wins enjoyed by the great Baltimore Orioles teams of 1969-1971. This is what it felt like to be an O’s fan at that time. But our more recent comparison and memory is to 2012. On the first of September just two years ago, the Orioles were 73-58. Of course, they would go 20-11 from that point to the end of the season.
Also reminiscent of the 2012 Orioles is the way that new and unheralded players step in and get critical hits. The first person to come to mind from the past is Taylor Teagarden—whose average was very anemic, but who got all of his RBIs when most needed.
We are seeing that again in this season… like Flaherty’s home run Sunday, the contributions of Jimmy Paredes over the past three games, David Lough getting a start and tallying three hits in the two hole, and the continued contributions of Caleb Joseph.
One could almost bet that when Alejandro De Aza and Kelly Johnson step into their first Orioles game they are going to do something game-changing. It is just the way the Baltimore Orioles roll right now. Gotta like it!
Getting a four-game sweep of the Twins will be a challenge against Phil Hughes – who is 14-9 with a 3.70 ERA. He has a career record against the Orioles of 7-5 / 5.05.
Kevin Gausman will hope to be a bit sharper than on recent starts. He enters at 7-6, 3.84 on the 2014 campaign. Gausman has never pitched against the Twins.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles