If there's one thing that separates the Oakland A's and the Orioles, the American League¿s two upstarts, it¿s that the A¿s young pitching has been a tick better this season. On Saturday, in Oakland's 5-2 victory, A's 23-year-old right-hander Jarrod Parker was a whole lot better than 24-year-old lefty Zach Britton.
For years, any big-picture assessment of the Baltimore Orioles has included a reminder of its growing streak of losing seasons. The number was 14 going into this year, a run of futility stretching all the way back to 1997. It won't hit 15.
In the top of the ninth inning last night, with the Tampa Bay Rays threatening to break a 2-2 tie, rookie Manny Machado made a sparkling play at third base to help closer Jim Johnson get the Orioles out of a jam. And after the game, ESPN gave Machado a little love.
Every time the Orioles arrive at what I like to call a "critical juncture" in the season, they seem to do something that reinforces the notion that they are on a special mission to change the face of baseball in Baltimore.
Before Sunday's series finale against New York, Showalter admitted it was wishful thinking. A series of tests over the next two days will give the Orioles a definitive answer whether Markakis will need surgery that would most certainly end his 2012 season regardless of the Orioles' future.
Joe Saunders held the Blue Jays scoreless for 5 2/3 innings Monday afternoon, helping the Orioles to a 4-0 shutout win over Toronto, snapping a four-game losing streak for the O¿s at the Rogers Centre.
First, the Orioles took the out ¿ and the air ¿ out of Yankees Stadium, jumping on the hosts to take a quick three-run lead Saturday afternoon. But knowing the way the Yankees play here in the Bronx, no lead is safe.
The Orioles spent the first half of the season committing fielding errors at an astronomical pace, but as they close in on the Yankees in the AL East race, their improved defense is one factor that's allowed them to compete.
The TV cameras made it look even worse. With the red-hot Orioles on their way to a thrilling 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night, MASN cameras revealed vast stretches of empty green seats at Camden Yards all night.
It is just four days until the calendar turns to September and your team is just 3 1/2 games out of first-place in the American League East, their smallest deficit in th division since June 24. If they remain steady this week against the Chicago White Sox, they can chip into that lead even more this weekend in the Bronx.