Circa 1997

Season #20 at Camden Yards is under way

The last time the Orioles made the post season was 1997. With a 5-1 victory over the Tigers today the Orioles have started the season 4-0 for the first time since, you guessed it, 1997. Are they going to make the playoffs this year? I’m not saying that, but the start has been good, and I’m fully ready to ride with it as long as it lasts. Mother Nature is even cooperating with them. After a weekend of rain and chilly weather we had our warmest day of the year today with highs in the low 80’s for an absolutely perfect home opener.

The big question heading into the season was whether or not the starters would be able to produce. Including today’s game, Orioles starters have gone 26 innings and given up only 2 earned runs for an ERA of 0.69. Raise your hand if you predicted that through the first four starts. I’ll admit that Guthrie pitched probably the best game I’ve seen from him in an O’s uniform on Friday, Tillman pitched out of his mind Saturday, and Britton’s major league debut was, well better than I thought it would be. Arrieta followed them up today with a start that was just as good. Is it realistic to expect this kind of production for 158 more games, no. I’m not greedy, it doesn’t have to be 1 run given up per day, I’ll settle for 2.

The bats, outside of Roberts, Markakis, and Wieters, have yet to come around so imagine when they do. Markakis is hitting .429, Wieters isn’t far behind at .385, and Roberts is hitting .294 with 2 homers and an AL leading 8 RBI’s. Lee, Guerrero, Jones, and Reynolds have gotten off to slow starts, but with the other three carrying the load and the dominant pitching they haven’t been needed, yet.

Excitement surrounding the Orioles is higher than it’s been since, well probably 1997. I even saw SportsCenter pose the question whether or not Baltimore can win the AL East. I think it may be a bit premature to begin that kind of talk, but the buzz around the team right now is great to see. The Orioles are being talked about outside of Maryland for the first time in forever and it’s not because of losing. Here in town the pictures of packed bars downtown for today’s game, a filled to the brim stadium, and pre-game festivities rivaled that of a Ravens game, who have dominated the sports scene here in recent years.

A quick look at April’s schedule shows 6 games against the Yankees, 3 against Boston, and 3 against the defending AL Champion Rangers. Those 12 games will probably go along well in telling us what kind of season we’re in for from the Orioles. The pitching will get a good test from possibly the top 3 lineups in the AL. A slug fest or two can probably be expected in a few of those games, so the lineup will probably need to plate a bit more than the 3, 4, and 5 runs they have scores so far. Quiz passed. Test coming up.

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