Former Cy Young Award winner John Smoltz, now a baseball analyst for TBS, had a chance to broadcast the Orioles-Yankees game Sunday.
He spoke to me late last week about the Orioles and their surprising season. Here are some of his thoughts.
On closer Jim Johnson: "I am a big fan of his. I think when you can dominate to contact with that power sinker, I mean this guy just gets outs. The other (top closers) strikeout two or three guys in an inning and that's ridiculous. But both (styles) are effective and both important to their teams."
On whether the Orioles are the real deal: "Absolutely. I think one area that people keep overlooking is their starting pitching. Their starting pitching is not as dominant because it's had so many moving pieces."
On the Orioles' "it" factor: "I just think the components of this team has "it." It's hard to describe "it." But "it" goes a long way when you believe in that combination that has led you to victory. You don't have to have so much intimidation throughout your team to have "it." And I think Buck Showalter has done an incredible job giving them that "it" factor."
On Buck Showalter as American League Manager of the Year: "Right now, there are so many great manager of the year candidates that is so difficult to predict, especially how it will finish. But [Showalter] is my pick right now."