• Apr

    Sweep is just what the Orioles needed

    Could this weekend have gone any better for the Orioles? Obviously a series doesn't get any better than a sweep, but how the Orioles did it has to make even the most diehard pessimist get a little excited about this team.

    You can't get better starting pitching then what Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman, and rookie Zach Britton just did. Guthrie tosses eight shutout innings to lead the way, Tillman follows up with six no-hit innings, and then Britton comes in shows everyone that he's for real by striking out six in six innings while allowing just one earned run, a run that was scored on a squeeze bunt.

    That's it! A freakin' squeeze bunt was the only run the Rays scored on our starting pitching.

    Now don't get me wrong, that Rays lineup is not going to scare anyone, especially without Crawford, Pena and the injured Longoria, but still, the Orioles starters took it to them and treated them like they were amateurs.

    When was the last time an Orioles rookie pitcher made his debut and dominated like Britton did? Sure Chris Waters stuck it to the Angels in his Orioles debut, but we knew the other shoe was going to drop on him. So I guess I should ask, when was the last time a top prospect showed up and looked like one right away? No disrespect to Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta or Tillman, but Britton showed eveyrone right off the bat that he's for real, and he's not going anywhere.

    And hats off to Tillman for his outing. The young man was on the bubble and came out and showed an improved changeup and better fastball command. Sure he walked three, but he struck out five in six innings of work and put guys away when he needed to.

    How about the lineup? Last year when the Orioles got off to such a horrid start, no one was able to step up and carry the team when others struggled. So far through the first three games, it's been a different hero each night although Brian Roberts has been red hot. In game one Roberts got the big two-run triple and in game two he had the big three-run homer, but Nick Markakis put the Orioles ahead with a third inning RBI single and later scored Roberts on a sac fly for his two-RBI night.  Today, it was number nine hitter J.J. Hardy with the big two-run double and Mark Reynolds had two doubles that each plated a run.,

    So even with their number three hitter Derrek Lee (.182) and number four hitter Vladimir Guererro (.167) combining to go 4-for-23 (.174) with no extra base hits and no runs batted in during the three-game set, the rest of the lineup picked them up. It's nice to see a lineup find ways to score runs without their big guys in the mix.

    This weekend was huge for the Orioles and their fans for so many reasons. After getting off to that horrid start last year, the Orioles buried themselves and any excitement about the team from their fan base. Although the way the team finished under Buck along with the offseason acquisitions has excited some fans, it was imperative that they didn't stumble out of the gate again.

    Had the Orioles gone down to Tampa and gotten swept, we would have heard, "Here we go again," and the excitement of the fans would have plummeted before they arrived for their home opener.

    Now, Orioles fever may be at its highest since 1997. The Orioles are in first place, they have a true Rookie of the Year candidate in their rotation, and for the first time in a long time, Orioles fans have a lot to look forward to on their home opener!

    Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board

Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.