The two losses on the field Saturday and Sunday where their offense didn’t get it done, and the loss of two key players via trades on Monday and Tuesday didn’t slow the roll for the Orioles even a little bit.
Their 6-3 win over Texas on Wednesday afternoon completed a three-game series sweep and a six-game season sweep of the club that spent so much money last winter to be where the Orioles are right now – in contention for the postseason.
The Orioles remained 1 ½ games behind Tampa Bay for the third American League wild card spot with the win over the Rangers. They didn’t get much going against lefty Martín Pérez, who ranks fifth in the AL in ERA. But as soon as he left the game, Robinson Chirinos hit his third homer and the Orioles took the lead as the dugout erupted. They didn’t flinch when Texas tied the game moments later. They simply scored two runs each in the eighth and ninth to go back ahead and put this one away.
It was an impressive afternoon for the Orioles, who are now 54-51. They are three games over .500 for the first time since April 4, 2021 when they started that season with a three-game sweep at Boston.
It was a day where all facets of the game had a role in the victory. Right-hander starter Kyle Bradish needed 93 pitches to cover five innings, but he again flashed plus stuff in allowing just one run. The defense made a couple of big plays, including shortstop Jorge Mateo with a nice backhand stop to start a huge 6-4-3 double play with two on in the Texas sixth. Terrin Vavra’s pinch-hit double in the eighth broke a 2-2 tie, and he scored the fourth run on a Chirinos single for his second RBI in two innings. Anthony Santander’s RBI double in the ninth extended both the lead and his hitting streak to 14 games.
Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias flew to Texas after the trade deadline to speak with a few O’s players and in a sense let them know that the trades this week didn’t mean he was throwing up a white flag on this season. The clubhouse obviously is not.
“I think that I’m so pleased and proud of where this team is at and where this organization is at," Elias told reporters before the game. "I can’t imagine a healthier spot than we’re in right now with this young group, playing the way they’re playing, pitching the way we’re pitching.
"The farm system that we have. We’ve got six top 100 prospects, arguably. We’ve got a deep system. It just got deeper, especially on the pitching side the last couple of days. We’ve got a scouting and player development and coaching apparatus that’s humming. We’ve got a lot going for us and there is a big plan to keep this organization very healthy. And while I’m super excited about 2022 and what’s ahead of us and our chances, we’re going to continue with the plan of building for this bright, long future in the American League East.
“I think we’re right there. I think it’s liftoff from here for this team,” said Elias, who added that he planned to be active in acquisitions this winter.
The Orioles are:
* 7-3 the last 10 games.
* 19-7 the last 26 games.
* 19-9 since July 1.
* 24-12 the past 36 games.
* 30-16 the last 46 games.
We could go on but you get the point, this is a team playing winning baseball, beating good teams and doing it over extended periods of time. At their current winning percentage, they would finish 83-79 over 162 games. That would be a 31-win improvement over last season.
The Orioles went 6-0 this year versus Texas, scoring 40 runs. It’s their first season sweep of any opponent of six games or more since they went 6-0 against the Los Angeles Angels in 2010.
Vavra is certainly making a strong early impression and looking like he could take some second base at-bats away from Rougned Odor. The rookie is 3-for-9 in six games with four runs and five walks for a .333 batting average, .571 OBP and 1.015 OPS.
The O’s starting pitchers allowed one run each game of the Texas series. Since Austin Voth’s scoreless start on Sunday at Cincinnati, the rotation's ERA is 1.21 the past four games. O’s starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs or less in six of the past seven games.
Maybe over longer stretches, the losses on the field and in the clubhouse of Trey Mancini and Jorge López will be felt in more significant ways. No doubt this could prove true. But in their first series without that duo, the Orioles passed the test with flying colors. Then they got on a plane to fly home and try to resume the excitement and the winning on Friday night in Baltimore.