Don’t be fooled by the Orioles. Their second half might not mean jack to anyone in the east or the AL altogether, but this may be one of the most important second halves Baltimore has been a part of in over a decade. They’re not going to win the division, they’re not going to win a wild card, I don’t even think they’ll finish .500. But their finish this season is incredibly important.
Image Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun
The Orioles have been known to tank around mid-August to early September. In 2009, they got a head start.
Baltimore is 6-16 since the break, they have held the lead in 13 of the 22 games. The Orioles are 4-28 in their last 32 AL East road games, 2-18 this season.
In their recent four game series against the Detriot Tigers, the O’s were 1-3 with a .230 team average, 4.5 runs per game and a team ERA of 5.08.
The numbers are nothing short of atrocious. If I were a normal fan I’d just pack it in and join the 10,000 other people at McDaniel College for training camp. But, I have high hopes for this group of guys and the second half has a lot of meaning to me and the young guys on the team.
People were saying all last week that Jason Berken has no business in the majors and should be sent back to AAA Norfolk. I haven’t been excited when Berken takes the hill, but I thought he showed a lot of potential and should be given a chance here in the bigs. Friday night he recorded a quality start with his six inning three hit effort in which he got his first win since May 26.
He’s just one of five young starters the Orioles will be looking at over the next two months. The five pitchers that have been called up since opening day have a combined average age of 22.6.
Who has a future in the rotation? Who will benefit the team in the bullpen? Who will be the staff ace? Who won’t make it at all? These are just a few of the questions that 2009 will answer.
But it’s not just about the pitchers. The Orioles outfield is also set for years to come. This season, Baltimore debuted a rookie of the year candidate who is hitting over .300 since the break in left field. They’re right fielder leads the league with 11 outfield assists and their centerfielder has stepped up as a vocal leader and already doubled his homerun total from last season.
Baltimore has also started to weed out the bad in their process of turning things around. Jamie Walker was released, Hayden Penn was traded, and if they weren’t going to get rid of Melvin Mora before, his comments last week changed their mind.
The second half of the season has been no fun to watch as a fan looking for the Orioles to turn around their 11 year losing streak. But, this season’s finale will be more meaningful than any in the previous 11 years.