I’ll admit it…I was wrong about the Orioles this year.
When I wrote my Opening Day blog back in April, I was certain that the Orioles would have yet another losing season. But somehow, the season went down to the wire with the Yankees, and Baltimore fans watched as the Orioles battled for 1st in the AL East, and will be playing the Rangers tonight in a one-game playoff for a Wild Card seat? Certainly not me.
The odds of the Orioles going from worst to first seemed to be stacked against them:
Big Players with Big Injuries
Some of the Orioles’ pivotal players suffered major injuries this year:
- Brian Roberts came back from his concussion injury and then had season-ending hip surgery in August
- Nick Markakis broke his left thumb in September and is still out
- Nolan Reimold had season-ending neck surgery in June to repair is herniated disk
- Jason Hammel missed two months after knee surgery earlier this year, and is still out after re-injuring his knee
- Wilson Betemit re-injured his right wrist in September and is still out
Some say that the Orioles’ best pitcher may still be in the minors: Dylan Bundy is 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA this year. Hammel is still dealing with his knee injury, and although Chris Tillman went 9-3 this season and Wei-Yin Chen lived up to his expectations, the Orioles haven’t really had a stand-out starting pitcher.
There seemed to be a revolving door between the Majors and the Minors this year, and it seemed like the O’s were suiting up new players every week. Nearly half of the team’s active players (18 of 35) played in the minors this year.
The stats speak for themselves: The O’s were 10th in the AL in runs scored, 11th in batting average and 12th in on-base percentage. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are our only hitters that have an above-average batting avg. with .287 and .298 respectively.
HOW DID THEY DO IT??
Winning Close Games
They won close games. The Orioles were 46-18 in games decided by one or two runs, and 28-9 in one run games alone – the best record in the . In extra inning games, the Orioles are 12-2.
A Great Bullpen
They had a great bullpen. How’s this for a stat: The Orioles are 73-0 when leading after seven innings. Jim Johnson was stellar this year, with 50 saves. Chris Tillman went 9-3 this season Buck simply knows when to pull the starters and put in the closers.
A True Team Effort
Although Adam Jones was a stand-out this year, playing in all 162 regular season games, and quick with the pies afterwards, there’s really been no one superstar or one go-to guy in the Orioles line-up. They’ve ALL been stars, and each game seemed to highlight a new player.
- First baseman Chris Davis had 33 home runs this year and even beat the Sox from the mound in the Orioles’ win on May 6th.
- The Orioles brought up Manny Machado, and in his first game in an Orioles uniform, he goes 2 for 4. In his 2nd game, he hits 2 home runs.
- Nate McLouth came out of nowhere to become the lead-off hitter and in September alone hit .286 with 4 home runs, and 4 stolen bases.
- The Sheriff, Mark Reynolds, may have struck out 169 times this year (hence the nickname), but when he was on, he was ON, hitting 23 HR’s and 69 RBI’s.
The Media Works team wishes the Orioles good luck in tonight’s game and can’t wait to see them back at home this weekend against the Yankees!