Manchester, MD – 61-56. .521 winning pct. 4 games back of the New York Yankees for 1st place in the American League East Division. Currently hold the second wild-card spot in the American League. That’s where the Baltimore Orioles find themselves after 117 grueling regular season games.
This team has battled hard over the past few weeks. Enduring the non-waiver trade deadline. Being no-hit by the Seattle Mariners. Coming up short on a west coast trip that unarguably should’ve gone better. Having to continuously shuffle a lineup that has been unable to find that true spark, aside from the obvious Crush Davis. But then came the return back home to Orioles Park at Camden Yards for a much needed 10-game home stand.
In to Baltimore for four games marched the Oakland Athletics. Although that march was probably more of a walk. A walk to UN-remember for the worst team in the American League.
The series opener on Friday evening saw four innings of free baseball as the two teams battled to the 13th inning, with the Orioles ultimately prevailing 8-6 on a walk-off two-run home run by Manny Machado. The win came as a sigh of relief for Baltimore as they carried a 6-4 lead going into the ninth, only to see closer Zach Britton squander that lead. It was only Britton’s second blown save of the season and came as a bit of a shock to many as the first time All-Star in 2015 has been exactly that. An All-Star closer. He’s 29 for 31 in save situations, holds a 1.84 ERA, has only allowed 10 earned runs, has only given up 10 walks… you get the point. The guy is having an outstanding season. Thank god for Manny though. He did a pretty effective job of quickly erasing Britton’s blown save from our memories. At least for the time being.
If Friday wasn’t exciting enough for you, Saturday more than likely did the trick. Miguel Gonzalez struggled early giving up two costly home runs, but he settled down and put forth a solid seven innings. More importantly, he kept the Orioles in the game. Chris Davis hit a two-run homer in the fourth to cut the A’s lead to 3-2 and with both teams tied 3-3 in the ninth, Davis smacked his second home run of the game and his 34th of the season just over the wall in right-center field to give the Orioles their second walk-off win in as many nights. Okay I wouldn’t say he “smacked” it, actually it was more of a golf swing since the dude literally just threw his bat out at a pitch that was outside and incredibly low. The guy hasn’t earned the nickname “Crush” for no reason. He’s an animal. But then again he does play his home games at Camden Yards. It’s not exactly Comerica Park. OKAY NO EXCUSES… moving on.
Then came Sunday. The third game of the series saw the Orioles absolutely pulverize the Athletics to the tune of 18 runs and a franchise record-tying 26 hits. Oh what a sight it was. After weeks of Oriole starters taking the hill and putting forth quality starts only to see their offense produce a lack of runs, the team exploded in an onslaught. Eight of the nine starters recorded at least two hits, Adam Jones hit two home runs, Gerardo Parra tied a career high with five hits, Caleb Joseph had a career high four RBI’s, and Buck Showalter for the most part looked pretty darn pleased. As for me… it was the icing on the cake to an already superb weekend.
Waking up for work couldn’t have been all that terrible for Orioles fans on Monday morning. Then again I don’t have to wake up at 7 a.m. or earlier just to go sit in traffic and work for eight hours. So I don’t exactly know their self-induced pain. Not yet at least. Anyways, going into Monday night’s series finale I guess I can admit I had my doubts that the O’s were going to finish off the sweep. So many times this season I’ve been impressed with how well the offense has performed in one game, just to have them come back the next day and crap the bed. But this time they proved me wrong. Sort of. The bats weren’t impressive but I wasn’t particularly expecting them to be since they had to face Athletics starter Sonny Gray. He boasted the lowest ERA in the American League coming into the game at 2.04. The dude can straight up hurl… and he’s only 25. Tillman was on his game as he’s been for most of the second half, and thanks to Steve Clevenger’s three-run shot in the fourth, the Orioles held on for a 4-2 win. It was Baltimore’s first four-game sweep of the season and literally couldn’t have come at a more fitting time. Same goes for Clevenger’s big day. Having already recorded four hits in Sunday’s big win, Clevenger has been on fire at the plate since being called back up due to Wieter’s inability to stay healthy. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of the Baltimore native next season once the Orioles let Wieter’s walk. A real opportunity for the guy to prove that he can compete at the major league level and possibly give Caleb Joseph a run for his money at the starting catcher’s spot.
So what do I think of the Orioles four-game sweep of the Athletics? It was impressive. It was great to see the starters go out there and pitch their tails off. They’ve done it all season and haven’t received nearly enough credit. It was even better to watch the bats come alive. That couldn’t have made me any happier. But the four-game sweep was expected, and by expected I mean that yeah that’s exactly how the series should’ve gone. The Athletics are the worst team in the American League. Granted the O’s had to face Gray on Monday, but if this team wants any chance at catching the Yankees and Blue Jays for the division title (cause of course they have a chance and anyone who thinks they don’t are delusional), they have to beat the teams that they’re supposed to beat going down the stretch. They just have to it’s as simple as that. Hopefully Buck reminded the guys of how huge the series sweep was, but also reminded them of how well the New York Mets have been playing. Look out O’s fans, the Mets are coming in for two and they’re RED hot.