Seconds after Zach Britton struck out Logan Morrison yesterday to secure the Orioles’ 3-2, 10-inning victory in Seattle, the MASN cameras captured manager Buck Showalter putting a little extra effort into his handshakes in the dugout.
Showalter gave first base coach Wayne Kirby a slap on the back. He smiled as he watched his players filter into the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field.
This one seemed to bring a slightly different reaction.
This one felt really good.
The Orioles went 6-4 on a West Coast trip that concerned fans thought might destroy the season. They were happy to settle for 4-6. A split would be cause for celebration.
Did this trip validate the 2014 Orioles? Will there be a stiffer test in the second half?
Go ahead and discuss.
It’s a natural reaction to lament the walk-off home run by Oakland’s Josh Donaldson in the first game of the trip. The Orioles easily could have gone 7-3. But they easily could have lost yesterday after Mike Zunino’s game-tying home run in the eighth inning. They easily could have lost Friday night after Felix Hernandez held them to one run.
They did lose Saturday afternoon, but they responded yesterday in typical fashion. And Showalter soaked in the moment.
“Is there such a thing as a man crush on your team?” Showalter asked MASN’s Jim Hunter.
“I was pretty proud of them today. There were a lot of chances to give in there.”
Instead, the Orioles again put their resiliency on full display.
The Orioles haven’t posted a losing record on a road trip this season. They lost two of three to the Tigers in their first series away from home, but took two of three at Yankee Stadium. They went a combined 4-3 in Boston and Toronto. They lost two of three in Minnesota and swept the Rays in St. Petersburg. They went a combined 3-3 in Kansas City and Pittsburgh; 5-5 in Milwaukee, Houston and Arlington; 4-2 in St. Petersburg and New York; 3-1 in Boston and Washington (with two postponements); and 6-4 in Oakland, Anaheim and Seattle.
Overall, the Orioles are 32-23 on the road this season, 26-18 in the American League East, 11-3 in extra innings and 19-16 in one-run games. Huge keys to being 12 games above .500 and situated in first place.
Once again, I’ll point out that it all starts with starting pitching and I’ll wish that I had coined the phrase.
The rotation posted a 2.94 ERA on the trip. Miguel Gonzalez, supposedly the weak link who could be headed to the bullpen or another team, has recorded four straight quality starts.
Chris Tillman takes the mound on Tuesday, and he’s 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, with four earned runs allowed in 20 2/3 innings. In his only home start on Aug. 14, 2009, Tillman earned the win after permitting three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Tillman is 1-5 at home despite a 2.89 ERA. Among qualified starters, his ERA currently ranks fifth in franchise history at Camden Yards, with Mike Mussina (2.65) setting the record in 1992.