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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Where it’s the final week of Orioles baseball

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The O’s are hitting the road for six games to conclude their 2020 schedule. This season really flew by, huh?

MLB: SEP 15 Braves at Orioles Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well, we’re here already. The final week of the Orioles’ season. That kind of snuck up on us, didn’t it?

That’s one of the hazards of a 60-game season, I guess. Just when you’re getting into the daily routine, just when you feel like the season is starting to ramp up, it’s over. And by this time next week, we’ll have to find something else to do besides watch Orioles baseball while we’re still (mostly) stuck at home.

To be honest, though, the Orioles recently have been playing as if the season already ended, based on their flat performance in the past two weeks. Since improving to 20-21 and pulling within half a game of a playoff spot on Sept. 8, the Orioles are 3-10, scoring two or fewer runs in nine of those games. It’s as if the long grind of the season has gotten them down, but what long grind? (In fairness, though, it’s no doubt been an emotionally taxing year for them, as it’s been for everyone.)

Tonight the Orioles kick off a three-game set where their season began, at Fenway Park, before heading to Toronto Buffalo for their season-ending weekend series. And then we’ll be looking forward to 2021 and — hopefully — happier times ahead.

And hey, we’re already off to a great start:

Links

Covering Orioles games in 2020 wasn’t a joy or a chore - BaltimoreBaseball.com
With socially distant Zoom interviews, myriad rules changes, and filibustering Israeli journalists, it was a bizarre year to cover baseball, writes Rich Dubroff.

Key takeaways about O’s breakout relievers - Orioles.com
Joe Trezza explains what has helped some Orioles relievers take a step forward this year. For some, it’s been the result of exhaustive work on mechanics, command, and pitch mix. Then there’s Paul Fry, who literally just turned his glove the other way so baserunners can no longer see the pitch he’s about to throw. Whatever works!

Orioles surrender Carson Fulmer on waiver claim - School of Roch
What’s your favorite memory of the Carson Fulmer era? Was it that time that he pitched, or that other time that he pitched, or that third and final time that he pitched? Good times.

Baltimore’s Losing Season Has Been a Productive One | FanGraphs Baseball
Dan Szymborski, friend of Camden Chat, details the improvements the O’s have made in 2020 and offers ZiPs projections for several prominent Birds for the next five years. Presumably, of course, several of the players listed will no longer be Orioles by then (looking at you, Renato Nunez).

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have six Orioles birthday buddies, but perhaps none that you’ve heard of; the six of them combined for fewer than 100 games with the Orioles. More than half of those were from 1983 and 1986 backup catcher John Stefero, who turns 61 today. The others are righty Luis Ortiz (25), the one-time prize of the Jonathan Schoop trade who posted a 12.71 ERA in three games for the Birds; 2002 six-game outfielder Luis Garcia (45); 1995-96 catcher Cesar Devarez (51); 1998 nine-game utility man P.J. Forbes (53); and right-hander Bob Harrison, who appeared in one game apiece in 1955 and 1956, comprising his entire MLB career. Mr. Harrison turns 90 years old today, so an extra special happy birthday to him.

Sept. 22 was once a successful day in Orioles history — the O’s went 17-5 in their first 22 games on this date through 1977 — until things turned dramatically in the other direction when the Orioles lost 11 games in a row in this date, including every one of them during the 1980s. All time, the Orioles have a 29-33 record on Sept. 22.

In perhaps a bad omen for tonight’s game, the Birds have suffered five walkoff losses on this date, including one in 2004 at Fenway Park, where they’re playing this evening. Others include a 1983 walkoff loss at Tiger Stadium where Lou Whitaker singled home both the tying run in the ninth and the winning run in the 10th, and a 1991 defeat in Cleveland when rookie righty Mike Mussina carried a 1-0 lead into the ninth but gave up four hits to lose the game.

But some good things have happened on this date, too! In 1966, the O’s clinched the American League pennant for the first time in Orioles history, beating the Kansas City Athletics, 6-1, behind Jim Palmer’s complete game. The Birds officially punched their ticket to the World Series, where, as you may recall, things went quite well.

And on this day in 2012, the Orioles won their 16th consecutive extra-innings game, scoring three runs in the 12th — on RBI hits by Jim Thome, Endy Chavez, and Manny Machado — for a 9-6 win in Boston. The victory kept the O’s one game behind the first-place Yankees with 11 left to play.