The Orioles walked-off in dramatic fashion today against the Oakland Athletics. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth the Orioles got the leadoff man on and the tying run to the plate on plays that were pure hussle. JJ Hardy and Adam Jones beat out two slow grounders and forced the A's to make plays - the A's would fail and the result would be the tying runs in scoring position with one out and Matt Wieters at the plate.
Wieters launched a high fly ball to deep left-centerfield that looked like it had a chance to get out of the park but it hit off the wall for a 2RBI, game-tying double. After a Chris Davis intentional walk Wilson Betemit came up and tagged a 2-1 fastball over the right-centerfield wall for a walk-off three-run homer to give the Orioles a a dramatic, exciting and outright wonderful late-inning win over the A's.
Betemit's first career walk-off homer salvaged a win from a frustrating day for the Orioles' offense going up against the genetically re-engineered neo-human that is Bartolo Colon. As you, dear reader, will remember: Colon was nearly out of baseball before having a controversial stem-cell rehabilitation procedure done. Since then he has been one of the more reliable pitchers in baseball. The portly frame of Colon was working hard and effectively all day. His velocity is certainly done, but his command was impeccable and the Orioles could not muster much.
Tommy Hunter had another solid day on the bump for the Orioles. hunter went seven innings giving up two runs on seven hits. He did give up another homerun, his eighth on the short season, but all in all hunter had another strong outing and gave the Orioles a chance to win. He was simply getting out-pitched by Colon all day.
Despite all of that the day would belong to the Orioles thanks to some ninth inning dramatics.
-The Orioles have won five games when trailing after seven innings, they won only five games like that all last season.
-The Orioles are six games over .500 for the first time since July 2005.The
-The Orioles' team ERA through the homestand was 1.83, The Orioles bullpen allowed only one run all homestand.
-The last time the Orioles lost a game where they allowed two or fewer runs: August 20, 2010.
It is a really good time to be an Orioles fan right now.
However, coming up for the Orioles is real test. A 15 game series that will see the Orioles going up against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Rays. The Red Sox might be struggling, the Yankees might have the worst pitching in the AL and we get the Rangers and Rays at home but this will be a real test for this team. The Orioles still have a lot of doubters in the baseball world right now - and for good reason. The Orioles play in the toughest division of the toughest league in baseball, and you can make the argument that the Orioles have the tallest mountain to climb of any major professional sports team.
Over the next 15 games we will learn how real this team is. If the Orioles emerge from the next 15 games over .500 then I don't think that anyone, even the most cynical bitter Orioles watcher in the region, can write this team off.
The Orioles travel to New York tomorrow to take on the ever-present New York Yankees. The last time the Orioles played the Yanks they played them tough but in the end came up short and were at the wrong end of a three-game sweep the Orioles need to keep that same intensity and fire going into NYC. I think that this big win today is just the spark that they need to carry them through.