Jeremy Guthrie is struggling. Brian Roberts isn't showing enough energy. The starting pitchers are not lasting. They are playing with a backup shortstop. This team has no power. Get a lead against them into the ninth, and Baltimore has no chance.
Despite all of these criticisms the Orioles seem to be getting by outside sources, the Birds are responding with victories, winning five straight including sweeping the World Champion Phillies as two come-from-behind wins in the ninth inning after having zero such games before Thursday.
Of these five wins, only one was by more than two runs. The bullpen was stellar for the most part, with pitchers from Mark Hendrickson to George Sherrill doing very well. The bats are coming alive with more home runs and key hits from leaders Brian Roberts and Aubrey Huff. Interleague play has been good to the Orioles, who have a 9-3 record against National League teams this year, the best in the AL East. Some strange things have been happening. Robert Andino has been playing very well in place of the injured Cesar Izturis both offensively and defensively. Gregg Zaun hit a home run in the comeback win against the Angels. Guthrie finally had a big start. And finally, people other than Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold hit home runs.
Even though the Orioles are still in last place in the division, this five-game win streak is important in other ways. Not just for the morale of the team, but also for possible trade deadline deals. Names that have been thrown around include Aubrey Huff, Danys Baez, Melvin Mora, among others. Andy MacPhail has stated that there will not be any salary dumping, so if any trades go down, it will be because they get prospects in a good deal. But the cornerstones of the franchise and the potential young guns will still be here.
For now, the Orioles should enjoy the winning. The Orioles have two series left in interleague play, at Florida and the second round of the Battle of the Beltway with the Nationals.
(Photo credit: AP)