The Orioles earned a huge victory on Saturday afternoon, coming back in the 10th on a two-run, game-winning single by Matt Wieters.
It was one of the more exciting games of the season; and arguably the most frustrating victory of the year, too. The Orioles should have pounded the reeling Chicago White Sox and instead were just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position Saturday (and 7-for-53, a .132 average, in their past six games).
Hate to be a downer here, but they have to figure out how to score more when they aren’t hitting the longball, and they have to do it soon. If they don’t, even if they make the playoffs, it will be a short stay. We saw last year what good pitching does to a homer-happy, strikeout-prone offense.
The bottom line is that the Orioles have won three straight – and that’s what they need to do at this point of the season. But they still aren’t playing particularly well; they’ve just been fortunate to get the White Sox at home in September.
The Yankees won’t be as kind to a team that can’t score when given the opportunity.
** The Orioles traded for Michael Morse to provide some right-handed pop down the stretch. But that right-handed pop so far is coming from Danny Valencia, who has been on fire.
Valencia had three hits Saturday, including two doubles, and now has multi-hit games in eight of his past nine starts. Since Aug. 4, he is hitting .563 (18 hits in 32 at-bats).
Not only is he getting key opportunities this September, but he is playing himself into a potential role with the Orioles next year. He could end up being the 2013 version of Nate McLouth, who emerged as a key contributor last year.
** And here’s another guy whose name has to be considered for next year: Brian Roberts. The 35-year-old is looking like the 2009 Brian Roberts at the plate and in the field recently.
A free agent at season’s end, he’s playing for his career. And his re-emergence couldn’t have come at a better time for the Orioles.
** Bud Norris is signed through 2015. But I can’t imagine, given what has happened for him here, Norris wouldn’t have signed up anyway.
Consider this: Norris, Sunday’s starter, has made three appearances for the Orioles this season at Camden Yards. He has an unsightly 7.16 ERA in those games. And yet he is 2-0 and the Orioles are in 3-0 in those games.
Talk about run support.
The Orioles have scored 23 runs in those three games for Norris. In Norris’ eight starts as an Oriole, his club is 6-2 and it has outscored the opponents, 51-28.
** The Orioles announce their minor league players of the year Sunday. Don’t have anything official, but right-hander Mike Wright and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez would appear to be the main candidates for the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.
You’d have to assume outfielder Henry Urrutia and catchers Caleb Joseph and Michael Ohlman are among those who have a chance at the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year award.