The Orioles have won another series! No, I don’t know what’s happening either, but the reality is there in front of us anyway. The Orioles have won the first two of their three-game series against Philadelphia, picking up wins in a couple of games started by a respectable duo of Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin. It is surely the case that the Orioles were “supposed” to lose both of these games and yet they lost neither.
The team is now 9-7 through their first 16 games. They are picking up some fun, exciting wins, including wins in games where the script of a bad Orioles team would absolutely dictate that they are going to blow it and then, instead, they win. Last night was another such game. Probably the Orioles “should” have lost, and then, things like this happened:
EZ REEZY BEAUTIFUL pic.twitter.com/K1GHg8IsOy— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 13, 2020
What is that, even? You could watch a thousand baseball games and not see anything of this sort - certainly not see it work, even if at some point some player gets desperate enough to try it. And yet, last night, it worked. Rio Ruiz shoveled the ball towards second base, it hopped three times, and Hanser Alberto stretched like a first baseman to get the forceout and preserve a tenuous Orioles lead. It was amazing.
Check out Andrea SK’s recap of the game to see what awesome stuff you might have missed, and don’t forget to vote in the MBP poll!
The O’s are two games back of the lead in the AL East. They’re four games ahead of the last place Red Sox. If the current standings stayed constant through the end of the season, the Orioles end up as the #7 seed in the American League. That’s because division runners-up are automatically seeds 4-6, and the Orioles have the best record of a third place team in the AL.
Even if there were not expanded playoffs with different rules, the Orioles would be tied with the Tigers at 9-7, with both of these teams having the fifth-best record in the AL. That means that at a minimum, the two teams that picked #1 and #2 in the 2020 draft would have a tiebreaker game to determine the second wild card winner. But those aren’t the rules for 2020. Teams will be navigating a strange landscape. One thing hasn’t changed: The best thing a team can do to help themselves is win.
The Orioles will go for the sweep against the Phillies this afternoon starting at 4:05 Eastern. Former Oriole Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the Phillies, while former Phillies prospect Thomas Eshelman starts for the Orioles. Sometimes there is symmetry in nature in unexpected places. It is unlikely this symmetry will benefit the Orioles today, though stranger things have happened already in the 2020 Orioles season.
Around the blogO’sphere
How are the Orioles playing this well? Five stats that explain their hot start to 2020. (Baltimore Sun)
Among the stats is that the Orioles entered last night’s game with their catchers combining for over a 1.000 OPS, and Chance Sisco went 2-4 with a double and a homer so it’s even higher now. That doesn’t suck.
Updating Means, Iglesias, and more (School of Roch)
John Means is now in COVID intake testing to make sure he doesn’t come back from the bereavement list with the virus. And Jose Iglesias might be battling his sore quad all season.
Hyde on three-batter minimum; Scott’s improvement (Baltimore Baseball)
Some more from Brandon Hyde yesterday, and also from Tanner Scott on what’s going differently for him in 2020.
#MoStrong: The boy who inspired athletes and rallied a city (The Athletic)
A free read without a subscription. The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli and Jeff Zrebiec, who encountered Mo Gaba as Orioles and Ravens beat writers, respectively, write for a wider audience about the superfan who just passed away.
O’s proving to all ‘why you play the games’ (Orioles.com)
Dwight Smith Jr. took to social media yesterday to drag an ESPN writer who’d predicted the O’s might start this season with a 1-12 record. If he’d later taken to left field to catch Andrew Knapp’s double, that would have been even more satisfying.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Today in 1969, Jim Palmer threw a no-hitter against the Athletics. This remains the franchise’s most recent solo no-no. Palmer had only returned from the disabled list four days prior to this outing.
In 1978, the Orioles fell behind the Yankees after a five-run top of the inning. However, it started to rain and the Baltimore grounds crew is said to have moved slowly in covering up the field, leading to the game being called at the end of the most recently-completed inning, when the O’s still led. This rule was changed in 1980, and its current incarnation was relevant to the 2020 Orioles quite recently.
There are a number of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2007 five-game pitcher Cory Doyne, 2006-07/10 outfielder Corey Patterson, 2010 LOOGY Will Ohman, 1987-91 starting pitcher Jeff Ballard, and 1987-88 reliever Tom Niedenfuer.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860), movie man Alfred Hitchock (1899), Mario/Zelda composer Koji Kondo (1961), and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank (1970).
On this day in history...
In 1521, Cortes’s Spanish forces captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and the final Aztec emperor, Cuauhtemoc.
In 1792, France’s king, Louis XVI, was arrested by the National Tribunal, which proclaimed him an enemy of the people.
In 1942, construction began on the facilities that were to host the Manhattan Project.
In 1961, East Germany closed the border in Berlin and began construction of the Berlin Wall.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on August 13. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!