Baltimore Orioles: Reminder of How Far Team Has Come


May 17, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Wright (59) celebrates with teammates after being taken out of the game by manager Buck Showalter (L) in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles got a much-needed win on Sunday in front of a large crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  The offense was still quiet, but three runs was enough for Mike Wright.

Yes, that is right, Mike Wright. A guy not considered one of the O’s top pitching prospects. He took the mound Sunday in place of an ailing Bud Norris and an injured Chris Tillman.

And he was spectacular. His first career strikeout was none other than arguably the best player in the game, Mike Trout.

He did not walk a batter. He got into two jams, in the fourth and seventh innings, and got big ground balls to help him out of it. He went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just four hits and getting his first career win.

Eventually, the conversation will need to be had about whether Wright should stay in the majors. I’m going to hold my thoughts on that until tomorrow. Tonight, I think this win is an important reminder of how far this team has come.

Prior to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter taking over, the Orioles were a team that often rushed starters to the majors. The names, between 2005 and 2010 of pitchers who started several games in a season for the Orioles before the age of 25 includes Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, Garrett Olson, Radhames Liz, Adam Loewen, Hayden Penn, John Maine and David Hernandez.

In 2010, the year Buck arrived, Arrieta, Tillman, Bergesen, Hernandez and Matusz had 97 of the Orioles 161 starts. None had a winning record. None had an ERA below 4.30 (Matusz).

Bergesen flamed out in Arizona, after some bad luck in Baltimore caused injuries to derail his career. Arrieta was the O’s Opening Day starter at one point, but just couldn’t put it together in Baltimore. Now, he is a top of the line starter for the Chicago Cubs, which isn’t a surprise considering the ability he flashed in Baltimore.

Olson left Baltimore, went to Seattle and then Pittsburgh, but never made anything of his career. Radhames Liz is now in Pittsburgh, an important cog in their bullpen. Loewen and Penn, two prized pitchers, never were successful in the majors.

John Maine left Baltimore for the Mets, where he was a decent pitcher for several years. Hernandez was a key piece of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, but has spent the last season plus recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Then there is Matusz, Britton and Tillman. Matusz and Britton found their roles in the bullpen, and Tillman, who was rushed along at the tender age of 21, has taken his lumps to become Baltimore’s best pitcher.

Now, the Orioles run the team in a way that maintains the team’s and the players’ best interest in mind. Kevin Gausman is going to be starting in Norfolk, despite possibly being a better pitcher than some members on the Orioles’ roster, to make sure he is ready to start. Dylan Bundy is slowly moving along after his surgery.

Players like Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Steve Johnson all are succeeding in the minor leagues.

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Meanwhile, the Orioles have guys like Wei-Yin Chen, who came from Korea. Miguel Gonzalez, out of the Mexican League. International scouting was hardly a thought in Baltimore before Duquette.

The Baltimore Orioles may be destined to lose a lot of players at the end of this year, but as long as Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter are running the team, you know that when players arrive in the major leagues, they will be ready to perform.

It won’t always be pretty, but that’s what makes outings like Mike Wright’s today feels so Wright.

Next: A day with the Wright stuff