Looking back - and way back

One of the primary reasons why the Orioles snapped their streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons was their ability to win on the road.

The Orioles recorded 46 road victories, 16 more than their total in 2011 and their most since 1997 (52). The 46 road wins were the most in the America League.

It also helps when a team goes 29-9 (.763) in one-run games for the best winning percentage in major league history. There was no way to predict it back in March.

The record was previously held by the 1981 Orioles, who were 21-7 (.750) in one-run games. They finished 59-46 in the strike-shortened season.

You’re a real fan if you remember catcher Willie Royster, who appeared in four games that summer.

On April 1, the Orioles traded shortstop Kiko Garcia to the Houston Astros for Chris Bourjos and cash. Bourjos never played for the Orioles, but he scouted for them in 2010 and 2011. He’s the father of Los Angeles Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos.

And yes, I really, really digress.

OK, one more 1981 fun-fact: The Orioles drafted Cecil Fielder in the 31st round, but he didn’t sign.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blog entry, already in progress.

The Orioles were 16-18 (.471) against the American League West this season, putting them on a 76-win pace over 162 games. They were 77-51 (.602) against the rest of baseball, a 97-win pace over a full season.

So much for the idea that the Orioles need to be more competitive within their own division. The West is how it’s won.

The Orioles went 11-7 in interleague play, tying the best mark in franchise history (1999, 2008 and 2009). They won five of the six interleague series, matching their best season-series record (2009). The Orioles finished above .500 against the National League for only the fourth time in 16 seasons.

The Orioles had 19 different players record a win in 2012 - 18 pitchers and Chris Davis - one shy of last year’s club record. And I love that Davis’ inclusion requires the Orioles to say “19 different players” instead of pitchers.

The 2001 club is the only other one in franchise history with as many as 19 different players picking up wins. Can you name them?

I’ll save you the time of looking it up: Jason Johnson, Jose Mercedes, Josh Towers, Sidney Ponson, Calvin Maduro, Buddy Groom, Willis Roberts, Mike Trombley, B.J. Ryan, Ryan Kohlmeier, Pat Hentgen, John Wasdin, Chuck McElroy, Chad Paronto, John Bale, John Parrish, Jorge Julio, Sean Douglass and Alan Mills. The Orioles could have reached the 20s if they had been able to squeeze a win out of Rick Bauer, Kris Foster or Leslie Brea.

The Orioles lost 98 games that season. Who led them in saves? Groom with 11. Roberts, Trombley and Kohlmeier each had six and Ryan had two.

Johnson led the Orioles with 10 wins. Mercedes led them with 17 losses. Roberts made 18 starts, McElroy five and Kohlmeier one. My heart still aches for former manager Mike Hargrove.

Davis homered in six consecutive games (Sept. 26-Oct. 2) this season to tie Reggie Jackson’s club record (July 18-23, 1976). Who served up the home runs to Reg-gie? I’ll save you the time of looking it up: Sid Monge, Dennis Leonard, Larry Gura, Bert Blyleven, Gaylord Perry and Danny Frisella (in the 13th inning).

The streak ended the following night against the Milwaukee Brewers’ Eduardo Rodriguez and Bill Castro, who’s currently the Orioles’ bullpen coach.

Mike Cuellar took the loss that night despite allowing only one run in four innings, leaving him 4-12 with a 5.14 ERA. He finished 4-13 with a 4.96 ERA, went 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA in two games with the Angels in 1977, was released in May and never pitched again in the majors.

He had a nice run.

Orioles pitchers worked 1,483 innings this year to set the club record previously held by the 1970 team (1,478 2/3) that won 108 games and the World Series.

Six Orioles made starts in 1970. I’ll save you the time of looking it up: Cueller (40), Dave McNally (40), Jim Palmer (39), Tom Phoebus (21), Jim Hardin (19) and - wait for it - Marcelino Lopez (three). Hardin also had one save, leaving him 12 behind team leader Pete Richert and 11 behind Eddie Watt.

I’ll close this blog entry with a leftover quote from Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson, who praised the Orioles following Game 5 of the American League Division Series:

“Very tough. Very good team that’s going to be around for a long time. They pitch well, they hit well, the bullpen’s deep. They do a lot of amazing things. You know it’s not a Baltimore team that you’ve seen in the past. It’s going to be a very good Baltimore team for a long time to come.”

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