It is crunch time, and the '12 Baltimore Orioles have not yet blinked in the face of an exciting pennant race. Buck Showalter and his confident band of brothers are officially at war with five AL clubs for a wild-card spot.
Fresh off an excellent series win over the Detroit Tigers, information about the Orioles will populate the internet like wildfire. This is especially true if this magical year for the birds refuses to migrate south.
It is in this spirit, I have launched this the first installment of the Orioles weekly activity report (WAR).
This WAR provides readers key Orioles analysis from last week’s play, and also provides a synopsis of what to expect in the upcoming week. Readers will also receive various tidbits to forge a balanced picture of the Orioles’ state of affairs. That said, here we go!
Week in Review (August 13-19)
With the off day on Monday, the Orioles went 4-2 last week. This ballclub is now 66-55. Baltimore did not get its 66th win last season until September 23 (66-91). They are just four wins shy of topping last season's final win total (69).
Last week, the Orioles batted .227 as a team, per ESPN. Baltimore’s pitching staff had a 3.77 ERA.
Defensively, the Orioles committed four errors in six games. While not impressive, Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com wrote a good assessment Sunday about how Baltimore has made good strides defensively since the All-Star break.
A great sign for the birds, Mark Reynolds batted .400 (8-for-20) with three home runs and seven RBI last week. Looking bigger picture, Reynolds is hitting .300 in August.
Zach Britton took Orioles pitching honors with his great performance in Baltimore’s 3-2 clutch win over the Tigers Saturday. Wei-Yin Chen also earned big two victories last week. He is now 12-7 this season. Rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez also picked up a nice win over Boston.
As usual, the "Orange Curtain" was stellar, though Luis Ayala and Pedro Strop stumbled a bit. Ayala and Strop were responsible for five of the seven earned runs surrendered by the bullpen in 19.1 innings of work last week. Strop bounced back nicely versus the Tigers on Sunday, however.
Jim Johnson was 4-for-4 in saves. He has not given up an earned run since July 27.
Orioles Enjoying Nice August
With the series win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, Baltimore is 4-0-1 in series since August 3. The Orioles are 11-6 this month.
Saturday, the Orioles tied the 1979 Orioles record for most consecutive one-run wins (12), per ESPN. The '79 team went on to the World Series that year. On the season, Baltimore is 23-6 in one-run games, also per ESPN.
This month the Orioles have batted .252 as a team. Baltimore’s OPS is .740, which is 14th in the MLB.
Pitching wise, Baltimore’s 3.52 staff ERA in August is ninth best in baseball (third best in AL). It is .54 points lower than the team’s 4.06 ERA on the season.
The Week Ahead (August 20-26)
Baltimore kicks off this week on Monday, with a critical three-game series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington. All games begin at 8:05 p.m. ET.
The Orioles have a day off Thursday before coming home to face the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game weekend series.
This is part of a seven-game homestand that includes a big four-game set with the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.
Team Injury Report
Per MLB.com, the Orioles currently have 10 players on the injury report.
Players Tsuyoshi Wada, Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold are out for the year. Though not official yet, Nick Johnson is also unlikely to return. Wilson Betemit (wrist), Stuart Pomeranz (oblique) and Troy Patton (ankle) are all on the 15-day DL.
Jim Thome (neck) has been running in a pool and may return in early September. Ryan Flaherty (tonsillitis) returned to action in a Triple-A rehab game Saturday and should return to the big club soon.
Best news is Jason Hammel (knee) threw a 40-pitch 'pen session on August 18 and is possible to return to the rotation in early September (per MLB.com). What a monster boost this would give the Orioles down the stretch.
Hot Minor League Performer
Zach Clark (Pitcher/Norfolk Tides)
Zach Clark is a 2006 non-drafted free agent out of University of Maryland. This 6'0", 190-pound righty has performed brilliantly season in the Orioles system. If Clark keeps pitching well, he may very well find his way to Camden Yards in the very near future.
Here are Clark's stats with Bowie:
|20 ||10 ||5 ||3.19 ||121.1 ||112 ||43 ||38 ||66 ||.248||1.18
Here are Clark's stats since being promoted to Norfolk:
|4 ||4 ||1 ||1.03 ||26.1 ||24 || 3 || 7 ||20 ||.247||1.06
Stats courtesy MILB.com
And Now, The Best News
The O's are just 16 wins from first winning season since 1997.
Let the countdown begin!
Other O’s Articles You May Enjoy:
5 O’s Players that Must Step Up For Team Make Postseason
Time to Enjoy Some Scoreboard Watching at Camden Yards
Baltimore Orioles: This is Birdland, Dang It
Baltimore Orioles: Top Under-the-Radar Hitting Prospects
Manny Machado Next on National Hype Machine’s Radar