Sweep the Rangers (and Hire their Former Skipper?)
Goob is off being a good Samaritan this week, helping to raise the spirits of cancer patients at a camp in North East, Maryland (no really – when he’s not spewing bile about the Steelers or Yankees, he’s a pretty nice guy), so I’ll step in and address some recent Birdland happenings.
The Orioles completed a most unlikely sweep over the weekend, besting the A.L. West leading Texas Rangers all 4 times at the Ballpark in Arlington. It was the first time the O’s had put together a 4-game sweep in Texas since 1976, and their first 4-game road sweep of ANYONE since 1995.
It wasn’t just history that was working against B’More this weekend though.
In game 2 of the series, it took a 2-out, 2-strike, top (edit: Thanks “duker.”) of the 9th GRAND SLAM from Corey Patterson to extend the game, which the Birds won in extras.
In game 3, the O’s went up against Texas’ shiny new ace, Cliff Lee, who was acquired Friday evening via trade with Seattle, after it had been reported all day that Lee was likely to be the newest New York Yankee. Lee had won 7 of his previous 8 decisions with the lowly Mariners, and entered the game with a 2.34 ERA. Although he would still turn in a complete game, the O’s bats managed 6 runs off him, which was more than enough for young Chris Tillman.
Tillman, recalled after again proving that AAA hitters are no match for him, had his best big league start to date. He carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning, ultimately pitching 7 1/3 allowing just 2 singles and 1 unearned run.
And then, just as the O’s seem to get on a bit of a hot streak, the All-Star break intervenes. So, can our Birds continue their luck in the 2nd “half,” or will their race to the 2011 #1 overall pick with Pittsburgh (we compete with them to be the best in football, the worst in baseball) continue?
Well, a few other things are brewing in Birdland…
Showalter on the Horizon?
Rumors were flying late in the weekend that the O’s were on the brink of signing former Rangers, Yankees, and Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter to manage the team. Some were reporting that Showalter would take over as early as this Friday, while others said that he may not manage the team at all this season, simply observing the organization from upon high before taking to the bench at the start of the 2011 campaign.
Over the last few days though, the rumors have cooled just a bit. Now the word is that while Andy MacPhail has met with Showalter at least three times, no formal offer has been made, and Juan Samuel is set to manage the team again on Friday.
Personally, I’d like to see the deal get done ASAP. Signing Showalter could be a turning moment for this organization, signaling that MacPhail and Angelos have finally seen the light that the team needs to start spending money (Showalter won’t be cheap, especially compared to Dave Trembley) in order to really compete. I’m not anointing him the savior or any such nonsense, just saying that I would fully support the move.
What I wouldn’t support is the “sign him and let him observe the organization for the next 9 months” crap that is floating around. As my buddy Glenn Clark puts it (and I’m paraphrasing), that’s just the kind of dumb move that the O’s seem likely to pull.
B-Rob on the Mend
As of this morning, Brian Roberts has 4 hits in 4 at-bats in his Gulf Coast League rehab assignment. Certainly promising news, but I hope Roberts isn’t unnecessarily putting himself at risk for yet another set-back. I’m no back surgeon, but wouldn’t the prudent course of action be for Brian to take the next few months completely off to heal and be 100% for Spring Training next year? What good is he really going to be to the team in 2010, besides maybe keeping them from that aforementioned #1 pick?
On the other hand, seeing the team play near-.500 ball for the rest of the year would warm hearts all over B’More, #1 overall pick be damned. A healthy Roberts could certainly have a huge hand in seeing that materialize.
It’s a conundrum. O’s fans will just have to trust that B-Rob and the team’s Doctors know what they are doing.
R.I.P. George Steinbrenner
Finally today, a bit of a sad note. As much as we hate them around here, and as much as we blame the man for making baseball the mess it is today, our condolences go out to the New York Yankee family and their fans on the passing of owner George Steinbrenner. The Boss had a heart attack this morning at the age of 80.
R.I.P. George, and thank you for inspiring this version of yourself: