Well here we are well into May, and if you have looked at the standings, you will still find the Baltimore Orioles in first place in the AL East. Crazy, right?
Maybe it’s not. It seems like the O’s are getting back to their roots by playing baseball the Oriole way, and with all of the injuries they have sustained recently, they really don’t have a choice!
So far in May, Nolan Reimold, Endy Chavez (who is Reimold’s backup in left field), Matt Lindstrom, and Mark Reynolds have all been placed on the 15 day disabled list. On top of that, Tsuyoshi Wada, a pitcher the O’s were counting on to be in the rotation, just had elbow surgery and is out for the season.
That’s pretty worrisome, but their recent schedule tops out the anxiety chart.
Baltimore squared off against the two-time defending AL Champ Texas Rangers early last week in a four game set. The O’s lost three of four (thanks a lot Josh Hamilton) before facing their AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays.
You can understand Baltimore’s sluggish play against the Rangers, especially since they were just coming off a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, with the last game going 17 innings. The O’s, however, fought hard against Tampa Bay, taking two out of three.
Even the third game they lost 9-8, they still fought hard to get back in the game after trailing 7-1.
After losing to the Yankees Monday night, the O’s share the lead in the AL East with Tampa Bay.
Through all of this the Orioles have fought tooth and nail every game, something we fans haven’t seen in a while. Their confidence is showing on the field, confidence you would not expect from a team that has not had a winning season since 1997.
Second baseman Robert Andino is making people forget about Brian Roberts. Rookie Xavier Avery, who was called up to play left field, got his first hits against the Yankees, with his first hit bouncing off the wall in right center for a double.
Bill Hall, also helping out in left field, hit a home run against the Rays, giving the Orioles an extra insurance run. And is it just me, or is Ryan Flaherty just a great ball player?
He is solid defensively and is usually sound at moving runners over when the situation calls for it. Heck, even Nick Johnson hit a clutch home run to help the O’s win a game.
That is the Oriole way. When you come up, you play the game the right way, put the team first, and try to do whatever you can to win. Heck, on Monday night, shortstop J.J. Hardy, who hit 30 home runs last year, tried to bunt a runner into scoring position.
Granted it wasn’t successful, but he would wind up singling up the middle to drive the run in anyway.
That is the Oriole way.
by Andy Mindzak