You’re not gonna want to accept it. The Orioles certainly can’t think it. Maybe I’m shortsighted for presenting it.
But the truth is this: The Orioles are now playing with house money on this road trip. A win Wednesday would be gravy; this three-city jaunt is already a success at 5-3 – especially for a team that began last week 29-37 on the road.
Yes, it would be huge if the Orioles and Kevin Gausman could beat the Boston Red Sox and 20-game winner Rick Porcello on Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
If they win Wednesday, they’ll be 8-7 in the season series against the Red Sox with four left to play at Camden Yards next week. So just splitting those four games would give the Orioles the season-series victory, which would be critical in any head-to-head tiebreaker.
Also, if the Orioles beat the Red Sox on Wednesday, they’ll be just one game out of first place in the AL East with the next eight games at home against division foes the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox.
That would be a great situation for a team that has been given its last rites about 10 times this season.
But let’s be honest here.
If I had told you last week that the Orioles would go 5-4 on a nine-game road trip to Tampa, Detroit and Boston you would have, as manager Buck Showalter likes to say, signed up for that in blood.
In fact, you probably would have been almost satisfied if the Orioles survived and advanced with four wins in nine tries on the trip.
I understand it is September; it’s time to be greedy. A 6-3 record and three straight series wins would exceed all expectations and, theoretically, provide some serious momentum going into the Orioles’ final homestand of the regular season.
Still, while you’re praying to the baseball gods and trying to find a live chicken before Wednesday’s first pitch, don’t lose focus that a 5-4 road trip is pretty good. But, yeah, 6-3 would be worlds better.
Bundy earns win after rocky second
Rookie Dylan Bundy has been impressive all season, but his second inning Tuesday night might have been one of his highlights of the year. Strange, considering he lost his command and temporarily unraveled.
It’s not often when a pitcher walks in two with the bases loaded, and gets applauded for his effort. But the 23-year-old showed some significant moxie.
In the second, he allowed a one-out double, a walk and a single to load the bases. He then walked No. 9 hitter Ryan Hanigan on six pitches and Dustin Pedroia on four. Bundy could have collapsed at that point. But he battled. He struck out Xander Bogaerts on a nasty changeup and then got David Ortiz to ground out to end the threat.
Bundy pitched into the sixth, officially lasting 5 1/3 innings while throwing 95 pitches. Not efficient, but he was effective enough. And he showed that he can make adjustments within an inning to get out of a jam.
Another important test passed for the rookie.
Don’t forget about this bullpen
We’ve made so much noise about the rotation holding its own – for the most part – recently, that again the impressive work from the bullpen is taken for granted.
And I’m not just talking about Mr. Perfect Zach Britton (42 for 42 in save chances) or the rock-solid Brad Brach who recorded three key outs Tuesday and has given up just three runs in his last 10 games (10 1/3 innings) in what some believe has been a rough stretch for Brach.
Tommy Hunter, picked off the scrap heap after he was released by the Cleveland Indians, has delivered scoreless appearances in five of his six games as an Oriole this time around.
And rookie Donnie Hart keeps doing his job as a lefty specialist. He retired lefty slugger David Ortiz on Tuesday and has thrown 13 innings in 15 games and has yet to allow an earned run.
Add in Mychal Givens and Vance Worley, and the group is even more impressive. It should only get better when set-up man Darren O’Day returns from a shoulder injury. He threw a simulated game Tuesday, will throw another Friday and could be activated by Sunday or Monday.
Jimenez a U.S. citizen
Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, a Dominican Republic native, officially became a U.S. citizen Monday in Miami. It’s not an easy process and you have to be dedicated to completing it.
But as we’ve all seen this year, Jimenez doesn’t give up easily.
He sure has had a pretty good stretch recently, on and off the field. He witnessed the birth of his daughter, he got his starting spot back and now he is a U.S. citizen. That’s a monumental trifecta.