Monday, May 19, 2008

Mile Marker Seven: The O's Not going anywhere

The Baseball season is much more like a marathon than a sprint, and the fact that its 26 weeks long, makes it easy to call each week a mile in the 26-mile race.

Raise your hand if you thought the Orioles would have more wins than losses at this point in the season. We're basically 1/4 of the way through the season and the Orioles are just 2.5 games behind first place Boston, and just completed a very nice 4-1 week which included two wins over the defending champion Red Sox, and a series win over market rivalry Washington.

The Orioles continued to show that they have a resilency that they haven't exhibited in recent years. Twice during the week, the Birds rallied from down 3-0 to beat the Sox.

Decent starting pitching and a bullpen that has been sensational at key moments have allowed the Orioles to stay in games despite the fact they are hitting just .249 as a team.

Daniel Cabrera threw another good game in getting the win versus Boston and his development has truly been a surprise for the Orioles. Always blessed with great stuff, the 27-year old is 4-1 with a 3.58 ERA. He has been around the plate a lot more this year and seems to be coming into his own and could be developing into the ace of the staff.

Garrett Olson was equally impressive this week. The lefthander earned his third win gritting out five innings against Washington. He struggled in several of those five innings, but he managed to escape without allowing the Nats to do major damage, and keep his team in the game without giving up the big inning.

The bullpen has been fantastic and has been anchored by closer George Sherrill, who has 17 saves.

But the real story in the pen has been Jim Johnson and Matt Albers. The righthanders who both are young converted starters had not had much major league success before this season.

Albers has made 15 appearances, including two spot starts and is 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA. He has pitched well out of the bullpen and has kept his team in most games. He's been all that the Orioles have asked of him. If Steve Trachsel continues to struggle, he may more to the rotation, but he's been so good out of the pen, that is hard to imagine.

As good as Albers has been, Johnson has been better. After starting the season in AAA Norfolk, he's allowed just 11 hits in 24 innings and his ERA is 1.13. He's pitched in numerous situations and hasn't had any problems in any situation. His double play grounder to retire Manny Ramirez was a key out in the series opener versus Boston.

So after playing five games at Camden Yards this past week, the Orioles are headed to the road to face AL East this week. A trip to Yankee Stadium starts the week and then the O's travel to Tampa to face the Rays to complete the week. It would be tremendous if the Orioles are able to pull 4 wins in this week. But in reality you'd probably be happy if they come home with 3 wins after this week.

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