Whenever I was asked to make a prediction for the 2012 season, I would point out how the Orioles could approach .500 if the rest of the division came down to them. How they couldn’t afford injuries to key players. How their young starters needed to take the next step forward.
Pretty much the same thing I said in 2011 and 2010. I didn’t claim to be breaking new ground.
Well, the division came down to the Orioles. I got that one right. But they haven’t avoided injuries and their young starters didn’t collectively take the next step forward.
A win today will guarantee that the Orioles do no worse than .500 this season, and it’s only Sept. 13. They can shovel dirt over the streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons. No need for a moment of silence, but you may want to pause and reflect on its passing.
It won’t be missed.
Last night’s game drew 26,076, but it sounded like twice as many in the sixth inning, when Miguel Gonzalez got two strikes on Ryan Roberts with runners on second and third and two strikes on Jose Molina with the bases loaded. I had more flashbacks to 1997.
Asked if he’s starting to feel like the Orioles have a true home field advantage, manager Buck Showalter replied, “Not starting to feel. We felt it all along. We always feel playing in our place, whether there’s 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000, our fans have always had great emotion about this club and this organization. It’s just that we’re doing more things on the field that they like, so that’s our responsibility.”
Yeah, they seem to like it.
The Orioles will be challenged to top last night’s attendance figure with a 12:35 p.m. start, but it’s worth playing hooky to possibly witness the official end of the other streak in Baltimore, the one without the numbers hanging from the warehouse.
Wei-Yin Chen takes the ball today, and he’s 6-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 home starts. The Orioles have scored five runs in his three starts against the Rays, who are batting .206 against Chen.
Adam Jones is 8-for-25 with a double and three home runs against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. A few readers noticed last night that Jones seemed to be hobbling on the basepaths. Good luck dragging him out of the lineup.
The Orioles haven’t avoided injuries to their key players, but they’re going to dodge a losing season. Maybe it becomes official today.