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Gauntlet Update

Just a quick check-in on the Orioles towards the end of their big early-season test, otherwise known as The Gaunlet. There are three games left of this Yankees-Sox-Rangers-Rays-Yankees stretch during which the O’s have gone 8-4 and sit two games ahead of the Rays in 1st place. That means regardless of what happens in the next three games, the O’s are guaranteed to finish no worse than 8-7.

Folks, this is quite an accomplishment.

This, by no means, indicates that the O’s are 100% for real and poised to take on the world, but it has to say something about the quality of the team and its depth. Doubters will point to the Indians and Pirates of last season and claim that the swoon is coming. And while that’s definitely never out of the question, the fact that the O’s are doing what they’re doing in – and against – the AL East has to count for at least something. And it’s not like the O’s aren’t without their own injuries.

This isn’t the last test the O’s will face, but it’s getting harder and harder to dismiss what we’re witnessing. And if you’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop, as I suspect many of us are (including myself, admittedly), I sure as hell hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am.

With that, I’ll leave you with this stoic quote from Tilt Breezy: “A lot of people are surprised, but we’re not. We are going to keep winning games.”

12 comments to Gauntlet Update

  • Andrew G

    If you are inclined towards pessimism, which you would probably call “realism”, then you might say that this team is a true talent 70 win team playing over its head. Breaking it down, they’re (true talent) slightly under .500 against non-AL East teams and something like a .375 team against the AL East.

    And yet, if they reverted to that form starting today – and you expect every team to play at their true talent level going forward – you would have to expect the Orioles to win 77 games this year because of this hot start.

    You can adjust that true talent expectation to your liking, but I’m not yet of a mind to adjust mine because of a hot 40 game stretch (as Dan says, remember the Pirates, the Indians, and the 2005 O’s), so I’m sticking with my pre-season expectation, now updated to 77 wins.

    The funny thing is that I’m actually pretty excited about that, because its so much better than it has been. I’m also a little scared, because I do not want to see a mediocre team be buyers at the trade deadline just to get that push for finishing with 83 wins and in 4th place, you know?

  • sci

    Even in a loss yesterday, there were many things to like. Main thing not to like — Arrieta. He, like Matusz, has to become more consistent. He is best slotted as a #3 or 4 I think. The future is Bundy, Britton (cannot wait til he comes back), Arrieta, Chen (he’s only 26), and Matusz, I think. Or Hammel instead of Matusz if he keeps it up. I really like the rotation going forward.

    I really think, now, that they could finish .500 this year. It’s very possible. The longer this stretch goes on, the less flukey it is.

  • dan the man

    @ sci:
    Yeah, Arrieta is more frustrating than Matusz at times because Jake has the much better stuff. Sounds like he admitted to over-throwing a little bit, so hopefully he’s able to bounce back.

    It’s been fun watching the roster madness happen and the team continue to keep rolling along. The 17-inning game clearly threw a wrench in things, plus the injuries to Reimold, Chavez, and Lindstrom, but they don’t appear too much the worse for wear.

    My biggest complaint is still the unwillingness to just leave someone like Andino or Markakis in the leadoff spot. Speed is overrated.

    Interesting note I discovered today: the O’s employ the shift the second most in the game. And it’s working, too.

  • sci

    I’m beginning to think Britton is kind of the key to the season. With him back and healthy and pitching well, the rotation is Hammel, Britton, Chen, Arrieta, Matusz — with Hunter in AAA ready to fill in if someone falters or gets hurt. That is actually a really strong rotation. Much better than the Sox rotation or the current Yankees rotation. If Britton can’t make it back or is ineffective, we’ve got a hole at 4 and 5 in our rotation and we’re way too reliant on Arrieta.

  • neal s

    Rough game tonight. Defense is looking like something of an achilles heel for these guys, which is a shame.

    That said, all they have to do is win tomorrow for the split (which is the expected result) and get back at it.

    If they can get through this recent roster turmoil without a meltdown I’m going to be very impressed. And, right now, I actually think it’s possible.

  • dan the man

    That one felt like a good old fashioned loss to the Yankees in which the O’s hand it to them on a silver platter, didn’t it? Games like that always make me feel like the honeymoon just ended. But then the O’s usually come back pretty strong, so we’ll see.

    Chris Davis is in a serious funk since that 17-inning game. He’s providing nothing at the plate or in the field. But all he has to do is get hot again.

    Xavier looked nice!

  • Miles

    I’m really, really excited by Xavier right now. Not just because of last night’s performance, but because of the numbers he was putting up at Norfolk.

    At first glance, the .273 batting average isn’t too impressive (albeit at Norfolk, a pitcher’s paradise), but 20BBs to 29ks, .373 OBP, .469 SLG, .842 OPS and 8 SBs looks nice.

    If Reimold misses an extended period of time (which is looking more and more like a reality), Avery should be a good every day sub.

  • dan the man

    @ Miles:
    The skeptic would question that it’s a small sample size in which he’s putting up those nice numbers, but he really did look nice last night. Laid off some good pitches and has a real quick bat. Craaazy fast down the 1B line.

    He’s going to draw Pie comparisons, but if plays good D and continues to hit, that’ll stop pretty quick.

  • sci

    Great win last night. 9-6 through the “gauntlet.” Savor that for a minute. 9-6 through that insane run of games, and still in first place. I’m appreciating every single day in first. Beautiful.

    Chen looked great. If it wasn’t for some Jeffrey Maier bullshit on that Granderson HR, he would have thrown 7 shutout innings. He’s for real. Was confused why Buck didn’t challenge that HR, but we got the win, so it’s neither here nor there.

  • dan the man

    Chen looks like the ace of this staff. O’s are something like 6-1 in games that he starts and he out-dueled CC. His fastball is sneaky fast and he can spot it on the inner half of the plate to righties like Bedard could do.

    9-6 is something to be proud of. The AL East is only getting tighter, though, with the Sox coming to life against some bad teams. It’s getting really interesting.

  • Buck Off

    We hear year in and year out how much of a beast the AL East is but if the O’s can play some decent ball, it’s scary how good our division can be. Right now, I believe we’re the only division in baseball that has every time sporting a positive run differential. And I imagine we’re a week away from being the only division where every team is playing above .500 ball. Craziness.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    totally bandwagoning at this point. hope i at least get credit for posting about the o’s all these years!