Long-time fans of the Orioles' Double-A Bowie affiliate can relate to long-suffering O's fans. The Orioles have made zero playoff appearances since 1997. Bowie had made just one since that year until this season.
The Orioles have not won the World Series since 1983. The Baysox have never won the Eastern League championship even though they have been playing since 1993. In fact, Bowie has never even won a playoff series, losing in the playoff's first round in 1993, 1994, 1997 and 2008.
Tonight, Mike Wright will try to pitch the Baysox to a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Wright is a pitcher that Orioles reporters have heard Buck Showalter mention a few times this year and say some nice things about. He is the Orioles' third-round pick in 2011 out of East Carolina.
Wright began this year at Single-A Frederick, going 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA. Now, he is with Bowie, and he gets the start tonight.
The 22-year-old Wright is 5-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 12 Bowie starts. In 62 1/3 innings, he has walked 17 and fanned 45.
Bowie manager Gary Kendall said Wright has improved this year, even if it hasn't been seen with better results yet. Wright has allowed exactly four earned runs in four of his last five starts, but Kendall said he sees a better pitcher now than he saw earlier in the season.
"I have seen above-average life to his fastball, and his fastball control has improved. Plus, his slider got better. He's pitching with more confidence, and that is even in the innings where it didn't go as well for him. You can see he believes he's a good fit here. He's got a really good explosive arm," Kendall said of Wright, whose fastball ranges from 90 to 94 mph.
Kendall said one pitch that he has seen Wright make some big improvement with this year is the slider.
"In the bullpen, (pitching coach) Kennie (Steenstra) and Rick Peterson have worked with him extensively. His slider is now more of a true slider. It has more spin and tightness to it, with depth. It's been noticeable, and you can tell in the game. His slider is just a grade better now. It's a pitch that is shaping up for him," he said.
Wright and the Baysox will try to move one step closer to the championship series and one step closer to Bowie's first-ever playoff series win tonight at Prince George's Stadium at 7:05 p.m.
By the way, while this blog was about the Baysox, feel free to leave any thoughts or comments on the Orioles here as well. I think you may have heard, they begin a pretty big series tonight at Camden Yards.