Don't believe the hype
All Orioles fans enjoyed this past weekend. Against the same team that they blew leads against in 2 of their first 3 games en route to a 2-16 opening mark, the O's held the Tampa Bay Rays to 3 runs (with a starting pitching ERA of of 1.35 and a WHIP of 0.65) while averaging 4 runs per game. They stand alone in 1st place in the AL East, and now they come home to face the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers before hitting the road to play the NY Yankees and Cleveland Indians.
And it feels good, doesn't it?
Well enjoy it. As fans, you have earned a moment to look at the standings and see the entire division looking up at the Birds. Go ahead and do a screen capture, or print it out in glorious color (if you are at work, make sure you pick the highest quality setting available). But I have to caution to not get caught up in trash talking that Boston Red Sox fan and their 0-3 record in the cubicle across from you just yet. Or, to quote friend o'the blog (and the first best friend I ever had, and the only guy who was cool enough to share his Han Solo blaster when we were playing "Space Cowboys" in our back yard, Sean (edited for television):
Are they f*@%ing with us or are they that good? Good young pitching? I know Tampa Bay has issues but Maddon is a good manager and the Rays are not a laughing stock.
He is correct in his evaluation of the Rays. They are not a pushover. And scores aside, those were close, tight games played w/a lot of intensity by both sides. And both sides had unexpected injuries to deal with. The Orioles had to put potential staff ace Brian Matusz on the DL w/a strained back muscle, forcing them to call Zach Britton up before they wanted to. Meanwhile, the Rays lost All Star 3rd baseman Evan Longoria for a minimum of 3 weeks w/a strained oblique. The Orioles just beat them. And it was the kind of beating that they have been on the other end of for far too long. A "here's our best going against your best, let's see who wins" kind of beating.
But no matter how good they have looked for the last 3 days the Orioles are not going to go 162-0. I doubt they could even pull off 154-8. I still think they have a legitimate chance of being over .500 for the season (I said 86 wins last time and I stand by that). I believe that the team will not win the wild card, but they will be in the conversation in August and September as something other than a spoiler for other teams w/hopes of October baseball.
The rest of this month they are home against the Rangers and the Red Sox, home and away against the Yankees, and end the month / begin next month with a 4 game weekend series against the Chicago White Sox. It is not an easy schedule (the Red Sox will bounce back), and in the AL East there are no extended vacations in the schedule. If this team is 14-13 on May 1st they will be well on the way to making people remember that this team used to be one of the ones that opponents feared and opposing fans lined up to buy tickets to watch.