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Friday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles hope to break their Yankee curse

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The O’s have lost 18 straight games to the Yankees. Tonight they’ll get two chances to snap the streak.

New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Well, it’s that time again. The Orioles have to face the New York Yankees.

That statement didn’t always fill us with dread. There was a time in the not-too-distant past that the O’s could actually play well against — and, God forbid, even beat! — the Yanks. During the Birds’ recent glory years from 2012-2016, they went 51-43 against the pinstripers, losing only one of the five season series in that span.

Even in 2017 and 2018, when the Orioles were on their downward spiral, they weren’t a total embarrassment against the Yankees. They won seven games against them each season.

But since the start of 2019, it’s been a sickeningly one-sided affair. The Orioles, since taking two of three games in their season-opening series last year, have lost 18 consecutive games to the Yankees. Eight. Teen. The next-to-last time the O’s beat the Yanks, the winning pitcher was Jimmy Yacabonis and Mike Wright got a save. That’s how long ago it was.

The Orioles’ brutal streak continued in a hastily-put-together two-game series this July, when the Yankees came to Baltimore in place of the COVID-afflicted Marlins. The O’s lost to Gerrit Cole in the opener and blew a ninth-inning lead in the finale on an Aaron Judge three-run homer off Cole Sulser. So basically, anytime someone named Cole took the mound in that series, it was bad news for the O’s.

Tonight the two clubs will play a doubleheader to make up a game from August 5, which was postponed because the O’s ended up playing the Marlins that night to make up for not playing the Marlins the week earlier, when they ended up playing the Yankees. Got all that? Yeah, this season is weird. The twin bill starts at 5:05, with Alex Cobb starting the opener and Jorge Lopez the nightcap.

So tonight the O’s get two chances to snap the streak — or let it reach an ugly 20 games.

Links

Hanser Alberto selected as Orioles’ nominee for Roberto Clemente Award — Baltimore Sun
Hanser Alberto is not only a pretty good player, he’s a pretty good person.

Pop says he’s “fully healthy” while throwing in Canada - School of Roch
I’ll confess — I had completely forgotten about Zach Pop. But he seems to be recovering well from Tommy John surgery, so hopefully we’ll soon get to see what made him a ballyhooed relief prospect in the Manny Machado trade. Plus, he’s got a fun name.

What does a season without games on farm mean for pitchers’ innings? - Steve Melewski
If you thought the O's would be unprepared for how to handle pitching prospects’ innings counts without a minor league season, think again. They’ve got spreadsheets and everything.

Pat Valaika’s playing many roles for 2020 Orioles - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Not mentioned in this story is Valaika’s new nickname: “Bag of Milk.” Let’s get this thing trending!

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Three former Orioles were born on this day: 2002 and 2004 utility infielder Luis Lopez (50); 1972-76 right-hander Doyle Alexander (70); and a first baseman from the inaugural 1954 Orioles, the late Eddie Waitkus (b. 1919, d. 1972).

Here’s some good news for the Orioles’ chances of beating the Yankees at least once tonight: historically, the Birds are an incredible team on Sept. 4, amassing an all-time record of 41-22 on this date. That’s their best winning percentage of any calendar date in which they’ve played more than five games. Among the Orioles’ victories on this date:

  • In 1969, trailing the Tigers 4-1 in the ninth inning in Detroit, the Orioles hit three straight home runs to start the inning by Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson to tie the score. They plated the go-ahead run later in the frame for the unlikely win.
  • In 1982, Jim Palmer threw a one-hit shutout against the Twins in Baltimore, the sixth (and final) shutout of his career in which he allowed one or fewer hits, including his 1969 no-hitter. Fellow Orioles legends Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken combined for a home run, a triple, and two runs scored to provide the offensive support in the Birds’ 3-0 win.
  • In 2012, the Orioles demolished the Blue Jays, 12-0, at Rogers Centre to move into first place in the AL East, the first time in 15 years they’d been in first place in September. Four Orioles had three-hit games — including Mark Reynolds, who homered and drove in four — and Zack Britton threw seven shutout innings (remember, he was a starter back then, and also went by Zach). The game was delayed in the fifth inning because the Blue Jays failed to close the retractable dome after it started raining. Great work, guys.