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Monday Bird Droppings: A hard-fought series tested the Orioles’ mettle

Despite dropping two of three, it’s hard to get too upset about the Orioles’ effort against the NL-leading Braves.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The streak is over. For the first time since early April, the Orioles lost a series, dropping two of three to the Braves in Atlanta. It snapped their run of seven series wins in a row and gave them losses in back-to-back games for the first time since April 8-9 against the Yankees.

Still, the Orioles’ showdown at Truist Park was nothing to be embarrassed about. In a sense, it was actually encouraging. The O’s went toe-to-toe against the best team in the National League and weren’t the least bit intimidated, looking very much like an evenly matched opponent in their three highly competitive games. The Orioles made a statement with their opening game win, and easily could’ve won either of the final two, both of which were decided in the Braves’ final at-bat.

For those Orioles skeptics who thought the team’s hot start was merely a result of facing soft opponents, this weekend’s effort might have changed some minds. The Orioles didn’t crumble as soon as they faced a high-quality team. They didn’t get blown out or laughed off the field. They entered the series as the third-best team in baseball and ended it the same way.

The Braves were merely the first test in the Orioles’ month-long gauntlet, and for the next three nights the O’s will face an even harder one. The Tampa Bay Rays, owners of baseball’s best record at 28-7, come to Baltimore tonight to begin a pivotal series (if any series in May can be considered pivotal).

The Orioles probably aren’t going to win all three. They might lose the series again. But O’s fans can feel increasingly confident that the Birds, no matter the result, are going to give the Rays everything they can handle.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! Today would have been the 86th birthday of left-hander Mike Cuellar (b. 1937, d. 2010), one of the best pitchers in Orioles history. A 31-year-old journeyman when the O’s acquired him in 1969, Cuellar transformed into a top-of-the-rotation anchor with the Birds, racking up four seasons of 20 or more victories and winning an AL Cy Young Award in 1969. Cuellar’s 143 wins as an Oriole are the fourth-most in franchise history, and he was voted by Camden Chat writers as the 22nd greatest Oriole of all time.

Other former Orioles with May 8 birthdays include left-hander Sean Gilmartin (33) and righties John Maine and Alfredo Simon (both 42).

On this day in 1966, Frank Robinson became the only hitter ever to homer completely out of Memorial Stadium, crushing his historic blast off Boston’s Luis Tiant in the second game of a doubleheader. Robinson’s clout sailed an estimated 450 feet and was thereafter commemorated with an orange flag labeled, “Here.”

On this date in 2012, the Orioles gave up four home runs to the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton in a 10-3 loss at Camden Yards. Hamilton added a double to set an AL record with 18 total bases. The O’s would get the last laugh, though, eliminating Hamilton and the Rangers in the Wild Card Game that October.

Random Orioles game of the day

Let’s check out how the Orioles did on May 8 in...1974. The O’s lost to the Athletics that evening, 7-3, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. It was something of a rivalry game between the frequent champions of the AL East and AL West divisions, who had faced each other in the ALCS in 1971 and 1973, each eliminating the other once.

The A’s jumped out to a 7-0 lead, tagging Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for five runs in just two innings of work. The top six hitters in the Oakland lineup were a combined 10-for-22, including a Gene Tenace solo homer.

The winning pitcher in that game was former MVP and Cy Young winner Vida Blue, who sadly passed away yesterday at the age of 73.