It took 14 innings, but the Birds ended 14 years of losing yesterday
Though I was in attendance for the first 10 innings of the Rays-Orioles series finale on Thursday afternoon, I unfortunately had other obligations that forced me to leave before the game had concluded.
I’m bummed about that, because I really wanted to be in the stands at Oriole Park at Camden Yards when the O’s officially put an end to their streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons.
That’s right. Those outside of Birdland may not have noticed, but yesterday the Baltimore Orioles won their 81st game, securing their first .500 or above season since 1997. It was the second longest current streak in the majors, behind only the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the Pirates looking like they too will end their losing streak this year, it’s nice that the O’s were able to avoid becoming the holders of that dubious title.
Of course, in typical 2012 Orioles fashion, the win was not without drama or late heroics. A seventh-inning double from Taylor Teagarden (who doesn’t hit much, but when he does, they are HUGE hits) scored Manny Machado and Robert Andino, giving the Birds a short-lived 2-1 lead.
Tampa would tie the game in the top of the eighth, and that would be the last run either team would score until the bottom of the 14th.
In that 14th, it was again Machado (a hero Wednesday as well) who rose to the occasion, looping a line drive into left that barely evaded the diving attempt by Rays left fielder Matt Joyce.
The win completed the O’s first home sweep of Tampa since 2007, a sweep during which they extended their lead over the Rays in the division and wild card races to four games. It was also the Birds’ 13th consecutive extra inning win. They are now 13-2 in extras on the year after starting the season 0-2.
As always, things don’t get any easier. The O’s now embark on a nine-game road trip that takes them to Oakland, Seattle, and Boston. Oakland is rolling along just as B’More is, and are coming off a very impressive 3-of-4 series in Anaheim. Seattle has played much better ball since the All-Star break, and Boston – while dismantled and slumping – would love to exact some revenge on the Orioles for last year.
While closing the book on 14 consecutive years of losing is extremely cathartic for O’s fans, this team has much larger goals in mind. If they can play just .500 ball over their final 20 games, they will end the season with 90 wins. Hitting the 90-win mark SHOULD earn them, at the very least, a spot in the postseason.
And what better way to get back into winning ways in Baltimore than to do so with such a ridiculous bang?
Late October baseball in Charm City?
Oh yes, please.