Well that was fun.
Of course, I’m talking about the past five game home stand where your Baltimore Orioles not only kept the “MASN Cup” in the Charm City (3rd straight year), but took 2-out-of-3 from a potential World Series participant in the Detroit Tigers. However, it wasn’t just the wins, but how this team is doing it that is giving me the “Oriole Magic” vibe as I put this to words.
First, on Memorial Day in the Nations Capital, Jason Hammel threw a solid, not spectacular, eight innings to help the Birds win the first of four in the annual MASN Cup series.
Then after dropping the second game, the series moved to the friendly confines of the Yards where the Chris Davis party continued in Wednesday night’s game (one of the best of the year to date) and finished up with “Sweaty” Freddy Garcia turning back the clock to 2005 in a masterful performance to clinch the series win. I have no hate for the artists formerly known as the Expos, but beating down that World Series favorite didn’t break my heart.
But it was this past weekend’s series win over - if not the best pretty damn close – Detroit Tigers team that was the most impressive of the season (IMO).
Especially when you consider the arms they were facing. I still have no idea why that chain-smoking Jim Leyland pulled Max Scherzer Friday night as he was dominating the Birds thru eight innings (retiring the last 16 he faced). But he did and “Papa Grande” himself, Jose Valverde, gave Jim Johnson one back as the never-say die Birds dropped a four spot on the Tigers, culminated by Chris Dickerson‘s first ever walk off home run at any level he’s played.
Saturday was as ugly Amanda Bynes’ haircut as the Tigers flexed their muscles and pounded four HR’s in the fourth inning, including three-straight and a grand slam by the all-planet Miguel Cabrera.
But if you were to tell me before the three-game series that the O’s would have a chance to win the rubber match on Sunday with rookie Kevin Gausman making his home debut versus a mediocre starter in Rick Porcello, I would’ve shoved my chips to the center. I’m not sure if that’s an indictment of how good I think this team is after losses or the confidence I had in Gausman, but let’s just say I might have put my money where my mouth was.
And it didn’t start out great as the Prince of MoTown, Prince Fielder,turned a 97-MPH heater into a souvenir just a mere two rows from where my boy Jackson and I were sitting in section 98.
That didn’t seem to faze the rookie out of LSU one bit.
All he did was keep the Orioles in the game throwing 6.0 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 ER while striking out 4 while not walking anyone. By far his best performance of his three starts and I actually thought he got better as the game wore on. His last pitch was a 97-MPH K looking on the black to the best hitter on the planet this side of Crush Davis, of course. This kid isn’t going anywhere, my friends. He is here to stay, in my opinion.
And who better to kick start the O’s offense in the bottom of the 7th than the aforementioned Davis who crushed the first pitch from Porcello deep into the bleachers. This not only lit a fire under the team, but it energized a crowd that was sitting on their warm Natty Boh’s for seven innings.
A couple clutch AB’s from guys like Danny Valencia (needs to play more) and Nate McLouth and next thing my boy and I know is Jim Johnson is coming on to secure the 4-2 win and send the Birds on a happy charter flight to Houston.
Listen, I know it’s only June but this team isn’t going anywhere. I say that because I know there are people outside the 410 area code who are waiting for the cleat to fall off Oriolrella (grasping here, cut me a break). I understand the starting rotation just might be the worst in the AL East. Maybe the bullpen isn’t as good as last year. Of course, I understand half the lineup isn’t going to hit over .300 all year. I get it.
But all I know is what my eyes are telling me. And what I see is a more complete version of last year’s “magical” team that just might be a trade-deadline starter from playing much deeper into October.
James Shields anyone?
Jabby Burns is a diehard #OrangeKoolAid drinker and contributor to BaltimoreSportsReport.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JabbyBurns and check out his website JabbyBurns.com.