Sunday, May 2, 2010

How Sweep it is

The Orioles won two games in 2009 against the Boston Red Sox.

They have now won four games against the Red Sox---in six games played in 2010.

Interestingly enough, the Orioles are only 7-18, and coming off one of their worst starts in franchise history.

How is it that this is the year they swept the Sox for the first time at home since the Watergate scandal? Many factors. The Red Sox aren't nearly as formidable as they have been in past seasons, and the Orioles bats have finally awoken. Throw in some gutsy starting pitching performances with clutch, timely hits and you have a sweep.

The Orioles saw the reemergence of Nick Markakis in this series. Markakis had five RBI's on Saturday night, which included a three-run homer. Markakis now has his average above .300 with his OBP above .400. I said last week in a post that Markakis would be around .300 within a month. I'll pat myself on the back for that. The guy is a pure, professional hitter.

We saw Adam Jones start to figure things out and get back to basics. Jones stayed on balls and peppered them to right field with regularity this weekend. When Jones doesn't get himself out, he is a very solid hitter. The guy is not going to be Willie Mays. But that's okay because nobody is Mays. Jones is a solid major league ballplayer and will be for many years. He just needs to continue to stay within himself and not try to do too much. That's when he gets in trouble.

Miguel Tejada was a dominant force this weekend, too. Tejada has shown the doubters that he is an above-average third basemen, and his work-ethic is showing. He swung the bat extremely well, and he, too, is above .300 for the season. Tejada's game tying home run in the eighth inning on Friday night may have provided the spark the Orioles needed. He then followed that with the walk-off single that scored Adam Jones from second base.

Tejada can flat out hit. He has four home runs and 13 rbi so far this season, and his bat truly makes a difference in the lineup.

Perhaps no Oriole has made more of an impact in 2010 than Ty Wigginton. Wigginton has eight home runs this season already, and has filled in admirably at second base for the injured star Brian Roberts. Without him, the Orioles might have three wins this season. The guy knows his limits, and knows what he needs to do to succeed. He isn't an all-star but he has true grit and determination playing the game. Give him at-bats and he will hit.

The Orioles got solid starting pitching this weekend from David Hernandez and Brad Bergesen. However, Kevin Millwood showed the city what a true number one pitcher is all about on Sunday. With the bullpen depleted, Millwood knew he had to go deep into the game today. What he gave the team was an eight inning, five hit gem. He allowed only two runs (both solo home runs) and gutted it out on a steamy day in Baltimore. Millwood has shown himself to be a true competitor with a winning attitude. It's important to have a guy like him around to show other players what winning is all about. Millwood would not be denied today.

The Orioles are not too great of a team. They're much better than their record right now, but their record is reality. The best part? They still have five months left to make up for such a terrible start. Let's be honest: everything that could have gone wrong for this club did go wrong the first month. They blew saves, late leads, and their closer Mike Gonzalez and arguably their best player Roberts have been on the DL most of the season. I knew it would take time for the team to adjust, and maybe they have adjusted. It will be interesting to see how the team plays once their schedule softens up a bit and they don't have to play as many divisional games. The Yankees and Twins are up next.

On a side note, many of you are possibly wondering why the Red Sox are struggling so much. If you'd like me to post thoughts on that topic let me know. I have many.

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