The Orioles are guaranteed to have at least a .500 record at the All-Star break. You can pinch yourself if you want, but I promise you’re not dreaming. That’s true. After the last few years of pure, uncut suck, there is something different happening with this team. They came back in yesterday’s game to force extra innings, eventually beating the Rays, 6-4, in 11 innings. Check out John Beers’s recap of the game for the lovely totals. By the way, this win snapped an 0-10 Orioles streak at the Trop. It’s the series of snapping double-digit streaks.
The win sets the Orioles up with a 46-45 record. One remarkable thing about this is that last year, the Orioles at one point had a 46-99 record. That is a heck of an improvement. It is hard to know where they will go from here. They are probably not destined to linger long in the AL wild card picture.
For now, the Orioles are only 2.5 games back. That’s within striking distance. Given that the usual suspects were making the usual comments before the season about how the Orioles are an embarrassment to baseball, it’s nice just to be here. Whatever else happens with the team, the haters were wrong. We can actually go into the offseason with expectations of something other than a 100+ loss season coming in 2023.
What’s even more fun about having an above-.500 record right now is that today is the draft. The fun thing about that is that the Orioles, by virtue of being horrible last year, get the #1 pick. So we get the double benefit, as O’s fans, of having a future star to dream about while things aren’t too bad in the present, either. This is not something that happens too often around here.
In recent days, chatter from the draft/prospect writers has suggested the Orioles are thinking about three high school players - Druw Jones, Termarr Johnson, and Jackson Holliday - and one college player, Cal Poly infielder Brooks Lee. Yesterday afternoon, assorted online sportsbooks leaned hard into putting Lee as the favorite to be drafted with the #1 pick. The Orioles under Mike Elias keep things famously close to the vest. Someone sure thinks they know something.
Day 1 of the draft gets under way at 7pm Eastern tonight. You can watch on either MLB Network (all picks) or ESPN (first round only). They’re going to run through pick #80 tonight, which means that the Orioles have four selections to make. In addition to the #1 pick, they’ll be picking at #33, #42, and #67.
If the Orioles are choosing Lee, that would seem to be a signal they’re heading for an underslot strategy again. We’ll see by the end of the night if any players who might be generally thought of as being worth the extra money are picked as well. Two years ago, the O’s were rumored to want to go overslot on pitcher Nick Bitsko, who was taken six picks before their second pick. Last year, they were said to want Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with pick #41; the Red Sox drafted (but didn’t sign) Fabian at #40. It’s part of the risk in not taking the best and most expensive available player.
There’s still one more game to be played before the All-Star break! If the Orioles win it, they will be above .500 at the break. That would be pretty cool. Jordan Lyles is starting the 1:40 finale for the O’s, with Corey Kluber set to pitch for the Rays.
Around the blogO’sphere
López excited to make All-Star Game a family affair (School of Roch)
When guys whose careers looked like they’d never be All-Star worthy are the ones who are performing well enough to make it, that’s always fun. Jorge López’s All-Star story is no exception.
Orioles already thinking of next winning streak (Orioles.com)
One thing that regularly gives the sense that there’s something different going on with this year’s Orioles team is when you listen to the players talk about the team. They know they’re not last year’s losers any more.
Q&A: MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger on the Orioles hot streak, Adley Rutschman, Mike Elias, and who Baltimore drafts no. 1 (The Baltimore Sun)
Draft telecast host Greg Amsinger is excited that no one knows who the Orioles will take with the top pick because it makes for a more interesting broadcast.
Minor league notes on D.L. Hall, Frederick Bencosme, and more (Steve Melewski)
Hall is scheduled to pitch today for Norfolk. He’s been on a roll in July since fixing an apparent issue with tipping pitches. I hope he fires off a good outing and pitches well enough that we can see him in Baltimore soon.
Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries
Out of all of the players to ever play for the Orioles, not a single one has been born on July 17. No player assigned to any of the four full-season minor league affiliates has a birthday today, either.
Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Founding Father Elbridge Gerry (1744), actor James Cagney (1899), actor David Hasselhoff (1952), and DJ Darude (1975).
On this day in history...
In 1429, French king Charles VII was officially crowned after the military campaign lead by Joan of Arc allowed the recapture of Reims Cathedral. Exactly 24 years later, the Hundred Years’ War saw its last battle, with the French defeating the English in the Battle of Castillon.
In 1821, the territory of Florida was ceded by Spain to the United States of America.
In 1918, Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family were killed by revolutionaries in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
And that’s the way it is in Birdland on July 17. Have a safe Sunday. Go O’s!