If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that the Orioles aren’t keeping track of the standings. They’re not counting up the wins. They’re not comparing this season to last season. They really are ... gulp ... taking it one day at a time.
“We’re a better team than we were last year,” reliever Kevin Gregg said last night after striking out the side in the ninth inning. “We’re putting a lot of things together and playing good baseball as a team. Getting the job done.
“Everybody in the clubhouse feels like we have a chance to win every time we step out there. That’s huge. We’ve won a lot of games in a lot of different ways, and that’s a good feeling when we go out there.”
The Orioles won 69 games last year. They notched No. 69 last night, on Aug. 25, and shrugged it off.
Does it mean anything?
“Not really, because we’re not playing to try and beat last year,” said catcher Matt Wieters. “Last year was not the year we wanted to have this year. We wanted to have a chance for the postseason, we wanted to have a chance for the playoffs. So I think coming out of spring training, we weren’t worried about what happened last year. We were worried about this year.”
Really, does it mean anything?
“Not at this point,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy. “I think we’re all playing for something a little bit more. And right now I don’t think it means much to us at all, really. It’s nice to win, but we definitely have a bigger picture in mind.”
“It’s a good thing,” said first baseman Mark Reynolds, at least confirming that it’s not a bad thing. “Our bullpen has been shutdown for us. I think that’s been the big key to us playing so well.
“It seems like we’ve gotten a timely hit a lot more than we did last year and we’re just playing well.”
They’re exceeding expectations by a mile and a half, but the mood in the clubhouse never changes, whether they lose a few games in a row or go on a tear, whether players are injured or return from the disabled list. Sure, there’s the occasional shaving cream pie, but otherwise, it’s just business as usual.
You would think that the Orioles had posted a winning record for the last 14 years.
Sixty-nine wins by Aug. 25 for a team that was widely viewed in the spring as bottom feeders in the American League East?
“It’s a product of playing good baseball and competitive baseball on a daily basis,” said center fielder Adam Jones. “We’ve got 36 games to go. Let’s see our record after 36 games.”
Well, at least someone is counting the number of games remaining.
“We definitely go into every single ballgame thinking we’re going to win, and that’s the attitude we need to have,” Hardy said. “I think if it’s questionable and we’re going out there trying to win or maybe we’re going to win, I don’t think that’s the right mindset to have. Everybody in this clubhouse goes out there expecting to win.”
There’s a lot to like about the 2012 Orioles. Attitude is high up on the list.