It seems as though the sunshine has finally broken through and spring is here to stay. Which means…you guessed it!
Baseball is back in Birdland! After a long, long offseason to ponder things, the O’s have started their 2017 campaign the same way they started off 2016.
By racking up a bunch of notches on the good side of the hash mark.
After Mark Trumbo‘s electrifying opening day walk-off and Dylan Bundy‘s dominant 2017 debut sent the Blue Jays out of Camden Yards with a zero in the win column, these cardiac O’s were back at it again versus the infamous New York Yankees over the weekend.
Not only did the O’s manage to come back once, but they came back TWICE to steal a pair of wins away from their long-time rivals. Sure, the ninth inning on Sunday didn’t go as planned, but take nothing away from the Orioles in what was an otherwise excellent team showing for the first week of the season.
Can I get an O Yeah?!?!
But what did we learn, and what can we take away from just the first week of baseball? Let’s dive into a few key observations:
– One thing that stands out already about this Orioles squad is that their heart and toughness seems to continue to grow year by year. Erasing a 5-1 deficit and a 4-1 deficit past the half-way point of a game is easier said than done on the MLB level, and they did it twice in two days.
– A huge mark to put in the ”pro” category is that the Orioles boast a 3-0 record in one-run games to start the season. A true mark of a playoff baseball club.
– Despite the implosion on Sunday starring Darren O’Day, the Orioles bullpen looks to be as solid as ever and will continue to be the team’s secret back bone. What’s new? Before Sunday’s series finale versus the Yankees, Orioles relievers had posted 16 2/3 straight scoreless innings. These guys are probably too close to mid-season form already….
– But other than Dylan Bundy’s fantastic season debut against Toronto in which he held the potent Blue Jays offense to just one run on four hits over seven innings while walking zero and striking out eight in a 3-1 win, the Orioles starting pitching has been worrisome yet again. Kevin Gausman looks nervous. Chris Tillman is still on the shelf. And Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley are up to their usual routines. The starters have a respectable ERA of 4.10 through the first week of the season, but averaging five innings per start as a unit will not cut it.
– And while the Orioles aren’t putting up the best numbers with a .227 team batting average (22nd in MLB), and a .284 team OBP (26th in MLB) while scoring 20 runs (4.0 per game) on five homers (t-20th in MLB)…who cares when you’re 4-1? Situational offense is better than a high-octane offense sometimes, and the O’s have gotten their share of clutch hits from the likes of Mark Trumbo, Manny Machado, Seth Smith, Mark Trumbo (again) and Hyun-soo Kim. More of the same, please!
As you all know, I have hockey deeply embedded in my DNA, so to pay homage to my first love, we’re going to do a ”three stars” at the end of each week for your Orioles. Here are the first week’s results:
Manny Machado. A massive home run against the Yankees and a slew of excellent defensive plays at the hot corner? Welcome back, Manny!
Dylan Bundy. He was really that good against the Jays. A pure gem of a start, and hopefully a sign of things to come for the Orioles’ future ace.
Mark Trumbo. After the opening day walk-off homer versus Toronto, Trumbo remained the catalyst of good vibes in the series versus New York and ended the first week of the season hitting .263 with a double, one home run and a team-leading five RBI.
Zach Britton, who went 3/3 in save opportunities, gets an honorable mention nod here.
Well, that’s it for now Birdland…It’s great to be back!
Next, the Orioles will kick off their first road trip of the season with two games in Boston before jetting to Toronto for a four-game set and then back down to Cincinnati for a three-game set.
Tonight, Bundy (1-0, 1.29 ERA) will look to build onto his phenomenal first start against the Red Sox and southpaw Drew Pomeranz (0-0, 0.00 ERA). Tomorrow, Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) will take the mound versus knuckleballer Steven Wright (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in the series finale.
Here’s to staying in first place.