I’ve gotta tip my cap to the Baltimore Orioles on a kick ass first half of the 2014 season. 10 games over .500 and four games in front of the Blue Jays in the AL East, what could you possibly nitpick about how the O’s performed?
MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko wrote a stellar column this morning on his blog about what the O’s have had to overcome to get where they are. It’s not short list.
- Manny Machado missed the first month of the season and was later suspended five games.
- Chris Davis has hit .199.
- J.J. Hardy has three home runs.
- Second basemen Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty have failed to deliver offensively.
- David Lough has hit .197.
- Tommy Hunter lost the closer’s role.
- Ubaldo Jimenez has lost eight decisions.
- Chris Tillman has been terribly inconsistent.
- Miguel Gonzalez was on the DL with an oblique injury.
- Bud Norris is on the DL with a ground injury.
- Johan Santana tore his Achilles and was unable to make it back to the big leagues.
- Henry Urrutia underwent sports hernia surgery.
Sound like a first place team to you? Hell no. But good teams find ways to win and that’s exactly what the O’s have done in the first three and half months of the season.
With all that said, things don’t get any easier for the O’s. According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, their second half schedule is the hardest in the big leagues:
No. 1 (most difficult second-half schedule): Baltimore Orioles
Home/away: 32 games at home; 36 on the road.
Games against teams with records of .500 or better: 42
Schedule notes: With the rest of the division something of a mess, the Orioles appear to have a great opportunity to win the AL East. But they will be challenged right out of the All-Star break: 10 straight games against the AL West beasts, beginning with Oakland, then the Angels, then the Mariners. Then, as a topper, they come back home and play the Angels and Mariners again, followed by a makeup game in Washington. In fact, Baltimore’s first 26 games out of the All-Star break — yes, that’s twenty-six — are against teams with records of .500 or better. Brutal.
Big finish: Not only are most of their games on the road in the second half, and not only do they have to play tough teams, but their last seven games are on the road as well, with four games at Yankee Stadium and three in Toronto.