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The Schmuck Stops Here
Peter Schmuck's musings on the local and national sports scene
Sports The Schmuck Stops Here

It's a different team, but the Orioles are starting to resemble the 2012 squad

This isn’t the same Orioles team that went to the playoffs in 2012, but there is some resemblance between this year's squad and that one.

The Orioles improved to 16-11 this season in games decided by one or two runs with Monday’s comeback thriller in Milwaukee, and they're now 11-6 in one-run games. They also are 5-1 in extra-inning games.

All of that has to sound pretty familiar.

This win featured some very clutch hitting and another pass-the-baton performance by the bullpen, which bailed out Chris Tillman after he struggled again to command his fastball and failed to hold an early lead.

It also featured some more good luck than the Orioles probably deserved. Tillman gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings -- and it could have been worse. He battled out of some situations and also ran the outfielders ragged as he battled unsuccessfully to hit his spots.

“He was fortunate,’’ understated manager Buck Showalter said on the MASN postgame show.

The Orioles also nearly threw the game away when new catcher Nick Hundley picked up a bunt in the bottom of the ninth and sailed the throw into right field to put runners at second and third bases with one out.

Darren O’Day got out of that inning with a lineout double play that featured an unforgivable base-running mistake by pinch runner Elian Herrera, who broke on contact from third base for no apparent reason.

Maybe it was one of those destiny games.

Jonathan Schoop kept the Orioles alive with his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth before Delmon Young singled and Nick Markakis doubled home the tying run off Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod, who spent part of last year in a setup role for the Orioles, blew a save opportunity for only the second time in his last 29 attempts.

That set the stage for Hundley to redeem himself in his Orioles debut with a two-out, run-scoring single in the 10th that would complete the uplifting opener of 10-game road trip.

The Orioles set themselves up for a solid opportunity to take this road series against the National League Central-leading Brewers before heading to Houston for four games against the Astros, who are in last place in the American League West.

They need to maintain some momentum because the schedule gets much tougher in June, when they have to go through the entire AL East for the second time and also have tough series against the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and AL West-leading Oakland Athletics.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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