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O's 7, Rays 4: First place is Birdland

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Capt

Garrett Olson pitched a quality start in his return to Baltimore, and the O's got rid of Rays starter Jason Hammel in short order to pound out a 7-4 win at home and stay tied with the Red Sox for first place in the AL East.

I watched the game but didn't talk, and here were my impressions of Olson last night, in numbered form!

 

  1. Five walks in six and two thirds is still just not good. At all.
  2. I won't, however, go so far as to say he was "the same guy" as last year. He dealt better with falling behind and even losing batters, and those that pointed out the small strike zone last night (probably a more correct strike zone than most pitchers are used to anymore) are correct. He never lost his head and threw fat pitches just to get them over. He trusted that his stuff and his defense would bail him out. It's a dangerous way to live if you're going to walk that many, but it's the right mindset, I'd say.
  3. I was glad to see him wearing No. 18 instead of 57. Last year, Alberto Castillo had 18, and 18 has been worn by the likes of Pat Kelly, Javy Lopez, Jeff Conine, Bob Milacki, Damon Buford, and, of course, Larry Sheets.
  4. I'd rather see Olson struggle and learn than watch Steve Trachsel simply struggle.
Who's slumping? Nick Markakis and Luke Scott, that's who. But Razor Ramon seems to be finding his swing, and Aubrey Huff continues to kill the Rays. Huff is also having a good April by his own standards, and that deserves to be said.

If the Birds win tonight and Boston loses, then we'll have finished April in sole possession of first place in the AL East. For a team that was supposed to lose 95-100 games, that's pretty good. And it's been a lot of fun to watch this team play hard and win some ballgames.

In the end, sanity usually wins out, and Boston and New York will end up vying for the division, and Tampa Bay might make a LITTLE noise, and Toronto will continue to be madly overrated by TV people if nobody else, and the O's will probably wind up finishing in fifth. The White Sox, Marlins, Athletics and Cardinals are also all in the thick of things at the tops of their respective divisions. April is always a fun month. And of those five teams (including the O's), two of them might actually make a run all year, even if none of them wind up winning anything.

The unexpected does happen. The Orioles contending this year, however, would be far more than unexpected. Which makes it all the more fun.