The Orioles are winners of ten straight games. The Orioles have a winning record for the season in July. These are sentences that, two weeks ago, would have seemed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. This did not feel like something that could happen. It has happened anyway. They are absolutely true. On Wednesday night, the O’s winning streak hit double digits as they wrecked the Cubs, 7-1.
If you are younger than 40 years old, a double-digit Orioles winning streak has never happened in your adult life before now. The team hasn’t reached 10+ since they rattled off a 13-gamer in September 1999. That was the second-longest drought without a 10+ game winning streak of any team in MLB, ahead of only the Marlins, who’ve never had one.
If you are 18-22 years old, your adult years have not yet seen an Orioles team with a winning record through at least 89 games. They haven’t been above .500 late into the season since the early days of September 2017, before the collapse.
What makes this whole thing all the more remarkable is that the team has so many of the same players who were around last year and contributed to a squad that only won seven games more than the Orioles have right now across the full season. Wednesday’s starting pitcher, Spenser Watkins, had an 8.07 ERA for those jabronis. When he arrived on the 2022 Orioles, I thought it was a sign they were waving the white flag on this season, too. Friends, it simply hasn’t worked out that way. Right now, things are awesome.
The good Orioles vibes continued into this game almost from the very first pitch. Cedric Mullins led off the game with a single that deflected off of Cubs starter Justin Steele. This was the first of four hits for the O’s in the inning. After Ryan Mountcastle reached with a single of his own, Anthony Santander cashed in a couple of RBI with a double. Santander scored a batter later thanks to Austin Hays picking up a hit and Cubs left fielder Ian Happ bobbling the ball. I guess you might call that a bit of Happ-less defense.
This set up the Orioles with a 3-0 lead, which proved to be two more runs than they needed. Even better for the O’s, the Hays hit ended up being the first of four hits he picked up in the game. Hays had entered the game in the midst of a 3-42 slump, with questions about how well he was doing with a nagging wrist injury. Well, if you want to be a pessimist, Hays is still in a 7-47 slump, and also get the heck out of this recap right now because the Orioles have won ten straight games and now isn’t the time to complain about crap.
In the second inning, the Orioles got back on the scoreboard again. Rougned Odor was hit by a Steele pitch to begin the inning. Mullins drew a walk to put two Orioles on base with one out. Odor and Mullins both rounded the bases on a Trey Mancini double that initially scored two runs. Unfortunate, Mullins came into home with a janky slide that left his lead foot bouncing off the dirt instead of smoothly sliding into the plate. On replay, he was deemed to have been tagged out. This was the correct call, based on what was shown.
Instead of a 5-0 lead with a chance to really blow the game open, the Orioles “only” had a 4-0 lead and the rally fizzled out shortly thereafter. The run taken off the board did not prove decisive in the outcome of the game.
While this was going on, Watkins was working his way through the Cubs lineup. When he started getting into trouble, he danced his way out of it. That included the third inning, where Watkins allowed the first two men on base and turned the lineup over with no one out. He set the Cubs 1-2-3 hitters down in order afterwards, ending the inning with two strikeouts. That’s some clutch dude stuff from a dude you don’t expect to do it.
The only damage the Cubs did to Watkins was in the fifth inning. #9 hitter Christopher Morel continued to be a pest, hitting a one out triple. Watkins couldn’t navigate his way to another zero in the runs column there, but he did limit the damage, inducing a sacrifice fly that plated a run but emptied the bases. The score was 4-1, and Chicago would get no closer than this.
The fifth was about as far as Watkins got in the game. He pitched to one batter in the sixth, and when that batter reached, he was pulled with 86 pitches thrown. Dillon Tate came on and retired three Cubs in order to close the book on Watkins: Four hits, two walks, five strikeouts, one earned run allowed in five innings. That lowered Watkins’s ERA on the season to 3.93. Hard as it is to believe, the five current Orioles starting pitchers all have an ERA of 4.37 or better.
With the game within save territory for most of its innings, the Orioles deployed good relievers. After Tate’s scoreless sixth, Cionel Pérez pitched a scoreless seventh. They got some more breathing room in the eighth. Hays’s fourth hit of the night started a two-out rally that also featured RBI hits by Adley Rutschman and Odor, and saw the seventh and final O’s run score on a bases loaded balk.
This is the kind of ridiculous nonsense that has all too frequently been happening TO the Orioles in the last four seasons. Some struggling reliever turning a close game into a laugher late, with poor pitching and even a balk? Yeah, that feels familiar. Except right now the Orioles are the team that comes in and makes the bad teams look bad. It’s weird and I still have no idea how long this all will last, but I’m going to enjoy the ride.
Staked to a larger lead, the Orioles summoned Joey Krehbiel for the eighth and Bryan Baker for the ninth. Baker briefly annoyed everyone by letting two men get on base before he retired a batter. Then he stopped being annoying, ending the game with a strikeout followed by a double play. This Orioles team, you guys... it’s something.
Whatever hot streak is going on right now is going to have to wait out the Thursday off day to see if it can continue. The Orioles are in for a tough test next as they had to face the Rays at the Trop. The last time the Orioles were in the Trop was the opening series of the season, when they got their butts swept by the Rays to start the season with an 0-3 record. Things have gone better since then, especially over the last ten days.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 13, 2022?
This poll is closed
Austin Hays (four hit game, possible end of slump)
Ramón Urías (continuing to impress with 3B defense)
Cedric Mullins (reached base safely three times)