Just about 24 hours after we wondered if the Orioles were teetering on the brink, we return this morning to pass out the deserved accolades to the club.
I thought going into this 15-game stretch against Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Texas that the Orioles would go about 6-9 against the four high-level opponents. Playing them consecutively over a two week run was just going to be a brutal stretch of one tough game after another and another and so on.
But the Orioles went 9-6 against four teams that combined to average 93.5 wins last year. Considering all the recent injuries and that the starting pitching was beginning to show signs of wear, playing .600 ball during this time frame was somewhat remarkable.
Maybe contending is not totally out of the question for this team. Could it be that the 2012 Orioles skip a few steps and go from bad to good overnight? Is this another Why Not 1989 scenario?
We have plenty of time to debate and ponder that one.
I think Wei-Yin Chen’s last two starts have been very, very impressive as he has gone 2-0 with an ERA of 1.84 against Texas and New York. Chen has allowed two earned runs or less in six of his seven starts and the Orioles are 6-1 when he has taken the mound this year. That stat gets your attention.
Keep in mind he shut down a Texas team that had scored 24 runs in taking the first two games of that series when he faced it. He pitched last night when the team had lost its two previous games, giving up a total of 17 runs. The Orioles had just two quality starts over their previous nine games as he took the mound, he was facing the Yankees for the second time and pitched better than he had the first time against them.
On May 4 at Boston, Chen gave up four runs (three earned) over five innings - and that was his worst start of the year.
By the way, the Orioles are now 11-3 in their last 14 AL East games.
During this homestand, we saw big hits from reserves like Steve Tolleson and Nick Johnson. We saw Xavier Avery make his major league debut and pump some energy into the clubhouse and speed onto the field. We saw Matt Wieters make another remarkable defensive play at the plate.
We saw the winning and the fun that is the 2012 season continue against some of the best teams in the league.
As the song says, “Something magic happens...”