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Proving Ground

If you’ve been locked in a cellar for the last couple of weeks, the 1st place Orioles were met with the daunting task of proving themselves against four perennial playoff teams in a stretch of 15 straight games. 16 games later, after their 15-inning marathon comeback win over the Royals last night, our O’s are exactly where they had been: 1st place. It’s been fun. Really fun.

Now the O’s are in the business of continuing their winning ways. Sure, they passed a big test. But for a winning club every single series is magnified in the struggle to keep pace. Last night’s win on the road against a talented Royals team, therefore, felt just as big as that win against CC Sabathia. There’s no longer any tests to pass, hurdles to mount, or monkeys to shake off. It’s simple now: win games, win series.

Since The Loss Column has been around, we haven’t had an opportunity to talk about the Orioles in this manner. In fact, the site dates back to 2006, fresh off the crushing disappointment of the 2005 season, the specter of which will remain until the O’s pass their only real test: a winning season. It’s been so long since we’ve talked about the Orioles winning that it’s hard to find the appropriate attitude to have about this team, lest the fragile karmic balance be disturbed. But there’s one thing about which I’m extremely confident: if this team manages a winning season, Buck Showalter should be an outright lock for Manager of the Year. I think it’s clear that he’s had about as big an impact on a club as is possible for a manager.

With that, I’ll leave you with some telling quotes before Brian Matusz goes for the sweep this afternoon:

  • Buck on the Maier-esque home run: “I don’t know if it was somebody in midnight blue or black and orange there. I’ve got an educated guess, so our goal was to play well enough so they can’t get a ticket.” Yup.
  • Xavier Avery, confident spark plug, on that same home run: “Hell yeah I had a shot. But they had that tenth man out there helping them out.”
  • Adam Jones will make you pay if you heckle him: “People behind me were yelling at me. But after I hit that one, they shut up.”

11 comments to Proving Ground

  • dan the man

    By the way, Angel’s call of Jones’ home run last night was priceless.

  • sci

    Matusz is infuriating. I guess my one wish for this season is that it was Britton and Wada instead of Hunter and Matusz at the back of the rotation. Well, Britton’s gonna replace one of those two.

  • dan the man

    @ sci:
    And yet, he does manage the quality start with 6 IP and 3 ER and gets the W while he’s at it.

    O’s sweep and have the best record in all of baseball. Cray.

  • sci

    I take it back! Haha. It is true, a decent start after all. Good job, Brian. This is nuts! Loving every minute of it…

  • dan the man

    Hitting 93 and 94 consistently, too. Could be the gun in KC, but it’s encouraging. I think it’s safe to say he won’t be an ace, but a little more consistency with his location and his stuff, and he could be a nice #3 or 4 for sure.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    heard it was a strasburg/chen matchup this weekend. is that true? fuck dc ya’ll.

  • dan the man

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:
    True indeed.

    This was only going to be a rivalry if both teams were good, and this year both teams are in first place. Can’t wait.

  • sci

    Hey Ravens fans — Why does Ed Reed always complain publicly about the franchise and how they treat him? I’m honestly curious about your thoughts. You think he could rise above just a little bit. It’s a real hit to his legacy, in my opinion.

  • Mike R

    @ sci:
    I have no idea. I would think the Ravens are just treading carefully in his situation. Locking up Flacco, Rice and Webb are priorities for this teams long term success. They locked Webb in, I’m sure Flacco is next with Rice getting franchised.

    What are you suppossed to do as an owner when one day Reed says “I can play for five more years” then the next he says “I’m not 100% committed to playing this year.” Meanwhile, every time the guy is in on a tackle we say “Oh shit” because he’s barely getting up off the turf.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    @ sci:

    ed reed was always very quiet and thoughtful until a couple of years ago. i’m not saying that that hines ward cheapshot/neck injury fucked his head up, but sometimes i wonder. as mike r pointed out, his comments are always so damned random and contradictory, even minute to minute. i definitely worry about his health.

    so the o’s bullpen has now pitched 36 extra innings? that’s not good. but it’s really impressive.

  • dan the man

    The rare Markakis home run admire. He watched that beauty sail out. I think we might finally have a rivalry here.