No One Expected Orioles to Compete
With less than a quarter of the season left, no one expected the Baltimore Orioles to be competing for a playoff spot. Getting swept by the New York Yankees last weekend didn’t help their chances. However, although unlikely, an Oriole winning streak and a Yankee or a Toronto Blue Jays losing streak could make for an interesting stretch run.
The loss of future star Anthony Santander a couple of weeks ago did not help their prospects. He was a sparkplug, batting .261 with a .315 OBP and a .890 OPS before leaving with an oblique injury.
Filling in for Santander
With Santander injured, along came a couple of rising stars who have done more than just replace a gaping hole in the lineup. Ryan Mountcastle and DJ Stewart have filled the gap nicely. Stewart, in his last seven games, has hit six home runs and is batting .417. Mountcastle has a .391 average and seven RBI in that same stretch. Mountcastle has been consistently good at the plate, batting .368 since coming up to the Bigs.
Young Arm Showcased
The hope of the Orioles doesn’t only rest on these young bats. The young Orioles arms are getting opportunities this season. Saturday’s game against the Yankees showcased a young arm for the Orioles who appears to be the real thing. Dean Kremer, drafted by the Dodgers in round 14 of the 2016 draft, seems to be a hidden gem found by a prospecting Oriole organization. In his first two games, he has a 1.64 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
Last Saturday the Orioles lost 2-1 to the Yankees. Kremer pitched well giving up four hits, one run and struck out seven over five innings.
Middle Relievers and Closer Contributing
Young middle relievers, like 26-year-old middle reliever Tanner Scott, have also played well. Over the last 30 games, in 18 innings pitched, Scott struck out 19 and had an ERA of 1.50.
Since joining the Orioles, 26-year-old middle reliever Dillon Tate, over the last 15 games, has an ERA of 2.19 with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched. Tate was the fourth overall pick by the Texas Rangers in 2015.
And 28-year-old reliever Paul Fry, in 17 games with the Orioles, has an ERA of 2.55 with 22 strikeouts.
A new cast is also at play to close out games. Finally pitching without apparent injury is 25-year-old closer, Hunter Harvey. Although he is 0-2 and has an ERA of 3.38, he has shown streaks of brilliance and could be the Orioles closer for seasons to come.
Birds Win Braves Series
After playing the Yankees, the Birds hosted one of the best in the NL, the Atlanta Braves, and won two of three. In the opener, the Orioles bats came alive for a 14-1 win. Jorge Lopez gave up only five hits in seven innings for the win, and the power rookies, Stewart and Mountcastle, combined for five hits and seven RBI.
In the finale on Wednesday, Keegan Akin, the 25-year-old rookie left-hander, gave up only three hits in five innings for the 5-1 win.
Regardless of this season’s record, the Orioles have surprised many prognosticators. If, before the season started, forecasters were told the Orioles would be in the playoff hunt, they would have probably laughed.
No one expected the Orioles to be competing for a playoff spot. When all is said and done, the team may not even be a .500 club. Their final record won’t matter, however, because the Orioles gave Baltimore fans some hope and some excitement. The team gave fans something to cheer for in a time when there wasn’t much merriment to be found.
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