As noted in my bold proposal post yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles currently have the worst record in the Majors. But lo and behold, they just swept the Red Sox, a team they beat all of twice last year in 18 tries. Is this the start of something big? The tests don't get any easier with three games at Yankee Stadium beginning tomorrow.
The positives from today's 3-2 win in 10 innings:
- an excellent start for Kevin Millwood who allowed just two runs in eight innings. Starting pitching was a major weakness for the O's last year and the veteran Millwood was acquired in the off-season to help.
- a great day for the top of the batting order. The O's first four hitters - Jones, Markakis, Wiggington and Tejada - hit .500 for the game. Wiggington had the game-winning RBI.
- hitting well against Jonathan Papelbon. The Red Sox closer has owned the Orioles in his career so tagging him with a loss must have felt pretty good.
Concerns going forward:
- The Orioles could, of course, do with improvement across the board. They're actually having more problems on the offensive side than they did last year. Losing second baseman and lead-off hitter Brian Roberts has definitely hurt. The team is 28th in the Majors in on-base percentage and dead last in stolen bases. Center fielder Adam Jones, my new fantasy team acquisition, had a great day leading off today: 2 for 5. We'll see how he does against the Yanks.
NESN color commentator Jerry Remy had a go at Orioles' manager Dave Trembley for bunting Ty Wiggington with two on and no outs in the eighth. Remy's argument was that Wiggington has the hot bat so let him swing. I thought it was a reasonable gamble against a superior team: move the runners to second and third, forcing the Sox to walk Tejada to load the bases with one out. Yes, he could have swung away but what if he'd hit into a double play? You'd still have a runner on third but two outs rather than one. The move, while seeming conservative, actually maximized their chance for a big inning. Of course, it didn't matter. The Sox got the last two outs without giving up a run.
Then, in the 10th, Remy criticized Trembley for NOT bunting Wiggington with a runner on and no outs. Instead, Ty hit the walk-off single. So it goes.
Now, pitching Papelbon more than one inning in a non-save situation? That was highly questionable.
All Part of My Fantasy
It was not my intention to criticize those who DO horde players from their favorite team. For me, both my MLB team (Orioles) and NFL team (Redskins) lose a lot more than they win so I'm far more inclined to get excited about what's going on with my fantasy teams. I perfectly understand not wanting your fantasy interests to corrupt your lifelong allegiances.