Forget the fact that my beloved Orioles set two reprehensible records over the past week, 1) 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on August 22, setting a record that had been on the books since 1897, for most runs allowed in one game or 2) the eleven runs that Baltimore's pitching staff surrendered on August 28 in the eighth inning to break a team record that had stood for 45 years, this team has been underachieving to the point it has become almost comical. Regardless, there have been a few bright spots:
Eric Bedard, Nick Markakis and Jeremy Guthrie have been consistent glimmers of hope for a franchise that seems to be in a free-fall with no way out. Eric Bedard, a serious Cy Young candidate, has posted 13-5 record with 3.16 ERA. He also has 221 strikeouts to lead MLB and the next closest pitchers, Johan Santana of the Twins by 21 and Jake Peavy of the Padres by 24. He has left the game ten other times with the lead, only for the BP gas station of a bullpen the O's have, to squander the lead each time. Bedard could easily have 16-18 total wins. Markakis is by far the Orioles leader with 83 RBI's, second with a HR count of 14, second in total bases w/ 232, second in hits & doubles and runs scored. Jeremy Guthrie was rescued from Cleveland's garbage heap to be the pitching staff's biggest surprise. Guthrie currently has a 7-4 record with a 3.46 ERA over twenty-two starts. He brought a sense of calm and confidence to the Orioles staff earlier this season when it was found out Jaret Wright and Adam Loewen would be lost for the season due to injuries.
Kevin Millar has been the emotional leader, the field general who has played his heart out. Hitting .263 w/ 13 homeruns and 55 RBI, he has been the "father figure" for the 2007 Orioles. Millar has been a vocal leader as well, guiding young players, repremanding veterans for lackadaisical play or confronting the front office when player efforts have been questioned. On top of that, he has become the evryday first baseman w/ exceptional play at the position. Millar has only one error in 82 games which comes out to .999%. Not bad for a probable platoon player at best when 2007 season began.
Other future bright spots on the Oriole horizon, some have been up for brief periods already this season, are pitchers Cory Doyne, Adam Loewen, Radhames Liz and positional players, Bill Rowell, Matt Wieters and Luis Hernandez. Doyne has saved 29 games in 30 chances for the Tides this year, and he posted an ERA of 2.23 in 42 games. He recorded 49 strikeouts in 44.1 innings, with a microscopic WHIP of 0.88 all in being named to the IL AllStar teams. Liz was 11-4 with a 3.22 ERA in AA Bowie before being called up to the Orioles. Wieters is the number one draft pick from 2007, a switch-hitting catcher with power, seen in the same mold as Joe Mauer from the Twins, but with a better stick.
The Orioles need a legitimate power hitter or two, but all is not lost for the future.To quote Tom Verducci, SI CNN Baseball Writer from 8/29 Mailbag:
"I still think Baltimore is a sleeping giant in baseball: great tradition, great ballpark, great fans."
Now all we need is a great owner, to spend some money and bring the pride and glory back to the fantastic Baltimore Orioles' tradition. Please say a prayer for all of us Orioles' fans, for the good of us and all of MLB. Thank you!!!