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Friday Bird Droppings: Orioles pitching dominates a superb road trip

The Birds won back-to-back series against two first-place clubs, throwing five quality starts. This team is for real, folks.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Cleveland Guardians
Hats off to you, Kyle Bradish.
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Tell me. Are there any non-believers still out there?

It’s September, and the 2022 Orioles just keep winning games. This team isn’t a fluke. They’re not getting lucky. They’re actually, really, legitimately good.

Are they good enough to make the postseason? There’s one month left to answer that question. The Birds, after yesterday’s win, are 1.5 games behind the Blue Jays for the third and final wild card spot—and they’ve got 10 more games against Toronto this month. So the O’s can certainly take their fate into their own hands.

In the meantime, they just keep impressing. Yesterday the O’s shut out the Guardians for the second straight game, 3-0, to clinch a series win. Tyler Young recapped all the impressive action. The Birds, faced with a six-game road trip against two first-place teams in Houston and Cleveland — a brutal trek that could have broken them — instead passed with flying colors, going 4-2 and winning both series. O’s starting pitchers were unbelievable, throwing quality starts in five of their six games, bookended by Kyle Bradish throwing eight shutout innings to start the road trip and seven scoreless to end it. Throw in the splashy arrival of Gunnar Henderson, and everything is coming up Orioles right now.

Well, maybe not everything. The offense could still use a jolt, averaging just over two runs per game on the road trip. Perhaps a return to Camden Yards for a weekend set against the Athletics, the worst team in the AL, will help. (No trap series, please.) Then comes the Orioles’ four-game, three-day showdown against the Blue Jays starting on Labor Day, a battle that could shake up the postseason race.

Look at this. It’s September and we’re using “Orioles” and “postseason race” in the same sentence. What a strange, delightful trip it’s been.

Links

Why Are the Orioles’ Playoff Odds So Low? | FanGraphs Baseball
You might have noticed that FanGraphs’ playoff projections for the Orioles are consistently lower than other outlets. Ben Clemens explains why that’s the case, and it’s more complicated than "bEcAuSe wE hATe tHe oRioLeS."

Hyde on Mateo, Henderson, Aguilar, Mountcastle, Hall, home games and more - Blog
Brandon Hyde discussed a number of Orioles players and how they’ll fit into the mix down the stretch. I would’ve liked to see him mention Kyle Stowers, who seems to have vanished into the ether.

For Lefty Cade Povich, Trade To Orioles ‘A Reset Mentally’ - PressBox
Orioles prospect Cade Povich says he’s trying to model his curveball after Clayton Kershaw’s. It’s good to dream big, I suppose.

Orioles’ Rodriguez has healthy rehab start at Aberdeen - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Not sure why Grayson looks terrified in this picture, but the Orioles’ #1 pitching prospect is back on the mound and feeling good.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! A whopping seven players in Orioles history were born on this day. The only one to play in the last 35 years was right-hander Jason Hammel, a surprise ace on that delightful 2012 O’s playoff team. Hammel turns the big 4-0 today. I’ll be joining you in that club in eight days, Jason.

Other Sept. 2 birthday Orioles include catcher Dave Criscione (71), right-handers Nate Snell (70) and John Flinn (68), utility man Rex Hudler (62), and the late outfielders Drungo Hazewood (b. 1959, d. 2013) and “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry (b. 1933, d. 1994).

The Orioles are on a bit of a Sept. 2 losing streak, losing their last four games on this date after winning the previous six. That last victory came in 2016, an 8-0 shutout of the Yankees at Camden Yards that brought the Birds within three games of the AL East lead. Dylan Bundy (5.2 IP) combined with three relievers on the shutout, while Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and Pedro Alvarez all homered. Alvarez’s blast was his 20th, giving the Orioles six players with 20+ homers: Trumbo, Davis, Machado, Alvarez, Adam Jones, and Jonathan Schoop.

The O’s also beat the Yankees on this date in 2012, this time in New York. Mark Reynolds, who absolutely torched the Yanks that September, swatted two home runs to lead an 8-3 comeback win. In that game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi made four pitching changes in the top of the eighth inning, including three relievers who faced just one batter each. So if you’re wondering why MLB instituted the three-batter-minimum rule, look no further than Girardi.

And on this day in 2015, the O’s walked off the Rays, 7-6. After Jonathan Schoop tied the game in the ninth with a dramatic two-run homer, Chris Davis played the hero in the 11th with a mammoth game-ending blast to straightaway center, his second of the game. The win snapped an O’s six-game losing streak.