I really wish that I had kept track of my road record this season, because it’s got to be impressive.
I’d go back and count up the games, but that would require doing math and, well, I was told there wouldn’t be any math.
Yesterday was gut-check time in the Bronx. It also was a game that measures a team’s heart, its resiliency, its bounce-back ability.
The Orioles had coughed up a two-run lead in the seventh inning Saturday, knocking the wind out of them while simultaneously breathing life into the Yankees and their comatose fans. The stadium was rocking again, the crowd no longer booing and eyeing the exits - along with the sketchy drunk sitting in the next seat.
We’ve seen these comebacks so many times, the images are burned into our retinas. I blink hard, and I see Armando Benitez drilling Tino Martinez. Try explaining that one to your optometrist.
So what did the Orioles do upon returning to their clubhouse after that painful loss?
“We came in and played music and shook it off,” said Mark Reynolds.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence and we’re just having fun.”
The Yankees take an early lead yesterday. Chris Tillman leaves the game with a “dead” elbow. Randy Wolf is summoned to make his sixth career relief appearance. Nick Swisher ponders doing a Lambeau Leap into the right field bleachers. It looks bleak, right? There’s a carryover from Saturday, right?
Not at all. Reynolds goes homer-happy on Phil Hughes, the Orioles take a five-run lead and Yankees manager Joe Girardi tries to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for most trips to the mound in one inning. I kept waiting for him to stand beside Robinson Cano and shorten the walk.
“I told you in spring training, we have a great bunch of players,” said reliever Luis Ayala. “There’s no names, but there’s men. We’ve done the little things, scored enough runs to keep us in games. We’re winning the games. I think we’re playing much better. We started slowly in the start of the second half, but now we’re playing some great baseball. I think it’s a great feeling. It’s a great time to do some great things.”
This team really doesn’t get too high or low. There are shaving cream pies, but they may as well be delivered in designer suits. There’s a professional, business-like demeanor that’s unusual for an organization that hasn’t posted a winning record in 14 years. Manager Buck Showalter has often mentioned how this team is “grounded” and how they “get it.”
I guess finishing .500 really wasn’t the original goal.
One coach noted over the weekend how teams no longer perceive the Orioles as being intimidated. Opponents keep juggling their rotations in an attempt to create more favorable matchups. They now know that this team isn’t going away. It’s just a question of where it finishes.
As yesterday’s game crawled into the later innings and exhaustion forced Girardi to crawl out of the dugout for his next pitching change, you could hear fans in the left field seats chanting “Let’s Go O’s.”
They’re going to Rogers Centre, tested by another division opponent and another day game. The Yankees will be waiting for them when they get back home.
A great time to do some great things.
NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez is listed as Wednesday’s starter in Toronto, which allows him to work on regular rest after he shut out the Yankees over seven innings Friday. Zach Britton will be recalled and make Tuesday’s start. Jason Hammel is expected to start Thursday against the Yankees at Camden Yards.
In 48 games in the leadoff spot, Nick Markakis is batting .343 (68-for-198) with 12 doubles, two triples, five homers, 26 RBIs, 30 runs scored and an .895 OPS.
Of the 75 runs that Joe Saunders has allowed this season, 26 have come in the fourth inning.
The Orioles are 7-33 in their last 40 games at Rogers Centre dating to June 8, 2008, but are 5-8 in their last 13 games in Toronto.
The Orioles are 21-14 in games where the opponent starts a left-hander. The 21 wins are more than they produced against lefties in 2011 (19-28) and 2010 (18-33). The last year that the Orioles had a winning record versus left-handers was in 1997 (33-19).
Yesterday’s victory improved the Orioles’ record in day games to 25-13, including 14-6 on the road. Their .658 winning percentage is the best in the American League and second in the majors behind Cincinnati (34-14, .708).
The Orioles have won 25 series in 2012 after winning 16 in 2011. The last time they won 25 or more series in one year was 1997 (31).