0-1 pitch coming from Bell. Snyder hits a fly ball to center field. Gwynn in to make the catch, and the Padres hold on to beat the Pirates, 8-5.
Last night, for the first time since April 15, the official MLB standings showed the Orioles as not being the last place team in all of baseball. With the Pirates loss in ‘Dago, the Bucs record moved to 39-74, half a game back from the Orioles, who are officially at 40-74. Not only does this mean that the Orioles are not in last place in Major League Baseball anymore, but that they are not the last team to reach 40 wins as well. Back in June, the Orioles were far behind everybody else by a big chunk. Back on June 24th, when the O’s registered their 20th win of the season against the Marlins, no team in the bigs had less than 25.
This all goes back to April, looking back at how the Orioles rocky start set them up for a miserable 6 months. After Mike Gonzalez blew save opportunities in both Opening Day in Tampa and the home opened in Baltimore, the team was down on hope and wanted to get out of their slump. Going 2-16 in their first 18 games, some said the season was already lost at that point. If not for Houston taking even longer to register their first wins to start the yea, the O’s would have been at the bottom from the start.
But now, with Buck Showalter as manager, the Orioles are 40-74 (.351), with an astounding 8-1 mark under Buck. Those 8 wins include a 3 game sweep of the Angels to start off his managerial stint in Baltimore, a series win (3 out of 4) versus the Chicago White Sox (who dropped to 2nd place after being in 1st for over a month, now tied for the lead with the Twins), and 2 wins so far in Cleveland, with the ability to sweep The Tribe tomorrow at Progressive Field and go 9-1 during the Buck era.
Where exactly do the O’s stand at the bottom of the pile? Well, here are the records of the 5 worst teams (in terms or record) in baseball:
30) Pirates: 39-74 (.345)
29) Orioles: 40-74 (.351)
28) Mariners: 44-71 (.383)
27) Diamondbacks: 46-69 (.400)
26) Indians: 47-67 (.412), Royals: 47-67 (.412)
At this point, there is no reason the Orioles can’t move up into the top section of the bottom 10 in the league. The Mariners just fired their manager and are not recovering greatly, the Diamondbacks were a huge sell team at the deadline and have a disgusting pitching staff at this point, and the Indians and Royals are both teams in building stages giving lots of young guys chances to just get their feet wet in big league ball.
With Buck under the helm, the O’s will look to finish strong. The rest of August is so important for the Birds, especially because they have a September full of the AL East and the Tigers (2 series against each of those 5 teams (Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees), one at home and one away). With upcoming home series vs. the Mariners and then the Rangers, along with a road trip out to face the White Sox and Angels at each of their respective home fields, the Birds need to push through these next few weeks and be mentally prepared for a brutal September. If the Birds can finish .500 in the Buck era, they will practically be one of the most impressive teams in baseball going into the off season if the month of September can be handled with composure and more quality starts.
In Buck we trust.