Baltimore Orioles: It May Be Too Early to Print Those Playoff Tickets, But...
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Man, has it been sweet to be a Baltimore Orioles fan these past four days.
I grew out a goatee in honor of the O's facial hair policy being changed for the start of the season, and now, I'm afraid to shave it off tomorrow like I originally planned on doing.
They've been on such a roll, I can't recall a time when I had more fun rooting for this team, save the last two months of the 2010 season.
I love this. Tomorrow's off day is going to kill me.
I just hope it doesn't kill the O's momentum.
But hey, if five months didn't, then a day shouldn't, either.
The team's ERA is 1.00 over the last four games. 1.00! I mean, I know it won't last all season, and maybe not past Wednesday, but it's pretty awesome to say.
We, as Orioles fans, couldn't have asked for a better start to this season, even with Brian Matusz hitting the DL (can't wait for him to begin his year), Luke Scott as day-to-day with a right groin strain, and now Jeremy Guthrie missing his second start of the season, which was slated for Wednesday, with pneumonia.
Justin Duchscherer hitting the DL at the season's start doesn't count, because we all saw that coming. If he returns to be a solid starter or reliever, however, that would be a great addition to the team.
Where will the O's finish in the AL East this year?
How about Zach Britton? One earned run over six innings in his major-league debut on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, with six strikeouts. He didn't appear to be nervous at all, even though he was called up to make an emergency start with Matusz going on the DL.
Even though he was facing the reigning AL East champs at home.
Even though he was trying to close out a sweep for his team, so that they could begin the year 3-0, the first time doing so since 1997.
Anybody remember the significance of the '97 season? I'm sure every O's fan does, and for those of you reading who aren't O's fans, that was the last season that the Birds turned in a winning record.
Gets you kind of excited, doesn't it?
I know, I know, we're only four games into the season. There's still 158 left. 1,422 innings, if there are no extra inning games. That's plenty of time to screw up. Believe me, I know. But momentum is a powerful thing, as well as team morale, especially in the marathon of a season that is the MLB.
Chris Tillman threw six no-hit innings on Saturday, despite not having his "A-game" and being pretty wild.
Things have just been going right for these birds. Like how even though the two biggest names that had been brought in over the offseason, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero, have been slumping some to start the season, the rest of the order has picked up the slack. Nick Markakis is hitting over .400 early on, J.J. Hardy has been a force in the nine hole, Mark Reynolds has done his part so far, and Brian Roberts is the team leader in RBI with eight, as well as being the only hitter on the team with a long ball, having hit two three-run shots in three days, both times to give his team the lead during a tie game.
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God, please help keep Roberts healthy through this season and the rest of his career. Oh, and a World Series win wouldn't be too bad either. Amen.
Matt Wieters has clobbered the ball since being slotted into the fifth spot in the batting order on Sunday.
Jason Berken has struck out six batters in three innings of relief, tied for the team lead with Guthrie and Britton.
Hopefully, it doesn't end. Hopefully, our beloved O's make a legitimate run at a playoff spot. Hell, I think it's safe to say that most, if not all of us, would be happy to see this team finish with at least a .500 record.
Granted, it's a stretch, but it's possible. Anything is possible in this game.
When was the last time we were alone atop the AL East? My best guess is back in the beginning of the 2009 season, when we got off to an 8-2 start, if my memory serves me.
It may not last, so enjoy it while it does. And get behind this team, because I truly believe they can do some special things this season.
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