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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles are in first place!

It’s only by percentage points, but that’s good enough for me

Los Angeles Dodgers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

The Orioles are in first place! It really happened. With yesterday’s results of the O’s avoiding being swept by the Dodgers while the Rays could not avoid a sweep at the hands of the Rangers, the two teams are tied in the “games back” column with the Orioles ahead by percentage points. The 58-37 O’s have a .611 winning percentage, while the 60-39 Rays are at .606. Advantage: Orioles.

Check out my recap of the come-from-behind win the Orioles managed on Wednesday to run the consecutive series without being swept streak up to 70. As noted by stat queen Sarah Langs, this is the eighth-longest streak ever by any AL or NL team, and tied for the third-best since the color barrier was broken in MLB. If the Orioles can manage to avoid a sweep in two more series, they’ll be tied for the post-integration record of 72.

It is amazing. In this space and on this website in generally, I am often reluctant to get too excited about the Orioles. Indeed, the last time I was truly confident around here was heading into the American League Championship Series in 2014. It didn’t work out well for me or for us. It’s better not to get carried away.

But also: This is a fantastic Orioles team that’s been doing fantastic things for several months now. The good times were not guaranteed to return, nor are they guaranteed to remain for long now that they’ve arrived. Let’s all enjoy what we can about it for as long as it lasts.

The Orioles currently have the best record in the American League. This isn’t a small sample size! 58.6% of the season has been played. A lot of baseball remains, and the Orioles will have challenges to overcome in that time, including another extended absence due to Cedric Mullins’s groin being injured again. If their challenges are going to be addressed by trade, there are twelve days left until that deadline.

Before we get to that, the Orioles have the most crucial series that they’ve played in a number of years. The four games in Tampa could swing the division significantly in either direction. Unless it’s a split, one team will emerge with a two or four game lead at the end of it, as well as an advantage if things end up going down to a head-to-head tiebreaker record.

It’s huge. The thing about the Orioles playing well is now there’s something to lose. As we know from those first couple of games against the Dodgers, when every game matters so much, it’s not hard to start feeling glum if things don’t go well for a couple of days. Every problem feels like this is the one that will stick and hurt them the rest of the way. By resisting sweeps all year, they’ve avoided prolonged losing streaks. The longer that can continue, the better off things will be.

For tonight, the 6:40 series opener has scheduled starting pitchers of Kyle Gibson and Tyler Glasnow. Gibson has an ERA over 6 since the start of June and is coming off a stinker where he gave up five runs in 5.1 innings to the Marlins. Glasnow has a 3.78 ERA in nine starts this season, with a bonkers 13.4 K/9. If the Orioles are going to move into first place by more than just percentage points tonight, they’ll have earned it.

Around the blogO’sphere

Orioles acquire pitcher Shintaro Fujinami from Athletics for Easton Lucas (Camden Chat)
If you’ll forgive me for linking to so many stories that I wrote (or even if you won’t), the Orioles pulled a little surprise start to their trade deadline activity last night. You can read a bit about the pending O’s arrival at the above link.

2023 Orioles draft pick signing tracker
The Orioles announced the signing of 15 of their draft picks yesterday, including all but one of the remaining top ten round picks. The one left unsigned from that group is Jackson Baumeister. Based on reported bonuses so far, the Orioles have gone under slot by $370,500. It seems like this is going to Baumeister, a sophomore with a little extra leverage to get an over slot bonus.

Hyde explains Mullins’s latest trip to injured list (School of Roch)
The manager says hopefully Mullins will be able to return when eligible on Wednesday. I feel like he offers this hope a lot more often than reality fulfills it.

Grayson Rodriguez went to Norfolk to figure things out. But what did he actually change? (The Baltimore Banner)
The Banner’s Andy Kostka got Rodriguez himself to explain what’s different about him compared to when he was here before. Hopefully these things represent improvements that show up in the game box scores soon, because the Orioles are going to need that too.

Maryland treasurer puts pressure on Orioles lease negotiations: ‘There’s something that we’re not being told’ (The Baltimore Sun)
The state treasurer, one of three voting members (along with the governor and comptroller) of the Board of Public Works who would have to approve of any lease, is elected by the state legislature. He is not directly involved in the negotiations, but at a board meeting yesterday, expressed frustration with the lack of resolution. You’re not the only one, Mr. Treasurer. I’m almost sorry for even bringing this up.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

The Orioles were last victorious on this day six years ago. The 2017 team came back from a 5-1 deficit against the Rangers to hold on to a 9-7 victory. Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, and Chris Davis all homered in the win, with Schoop and Jones each driving in three runs to help overcome starting pitcher Wade Miley being bad. That win was the O’s fourth straight, after which they had a 46-49 record.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2019-21 catcher Pedro Severino, 2013-14 infielder Alexi Casilla, 2010-11 infielder Jake Fox, and 1999-2000 catcher Charles Johnson.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: geneticist Gregor Mendel (1822), baseball Hall of Famer Heinie Manush (1901), novelist Cormac McCarthy (1933), baseball Hall of Famer Tony Oliva (1938), guitarist Carlos Santana (1947), actor Omar Epps (1973), and actress Julianne Hough (1988).

On this day in history...

In 1848, the two-day Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, came to a close. The convention produced a Declaration of Sentiments, styled like the Declaration of Independence, which argued, among other things, for women to gain the right to vote.

In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, shortly followed by the history-making moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on July 20. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!