As MLB.com's Matthew Leach writes, the Orioles have one hell of a streak going:
At some point, the O's will lose a game they lead in the late innings. At some point, manager Buck Showalter will pull the wrong lever, and the Orioles' just-enough starting pitching will be not enough, and this remarkable run will come to an end.
But we've been waiting since the end of the 2011 season, and it hasn't happened yet. And at some point, even the most rational of us just have to tip our caps, smile and say, "it's more Orioles magic."
Tuesday's 4-3 win over R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays was Baltimore's 100th consecutive victory when it held a lead after seven innings, dating back to August 2011. That's the second longest by any team since at least 1961. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then maybe those of us who are waiting for things to change are a little bit crazy.
Maybe. But let's give it a few more weeks or months before not going insane, shall we?
I don't believe that anyone's ever discovered a long-term antidote to The Tyranny of Run Differential. Essentially, for every 10 runs by which you outscore your opponents, you finish another game better than .500. Last season the Orioles outscored their opponents by seven runs; this would typically lead to an 82-80 record, or one game better than .500. Instead they finished 12 games better than .500 and were in the championship tournament.
Actually, the Orioles' record this season is right in line with their runs scored and allowed. As I'm writing this, they're losing to the Blue Jays, 4-2 in the top of the fourth. If things continue roughly along these lines, they'll have (roughly) a +10 run differential and a 12-9 record. Ho hum.
Granted, they'll still have that streak going. But that will end soon, maybe not this month but probably next. At some point, and perhaps some point quite soon, the Orioles will become a normal team, if only because every team eventually normalizes; it's just the nature of the game.
Which doesn't mean the Orioles can't win. Granted, I didn't expect them to win this season. Not a lot. But they entered Wednesday's game second in the American League in scoring, fourth in slugging percentage and sixth in on-base percentage. Their starting pitching's been weak, but their hitting's been good and their bullpen's been fantastic (again).
Is all of this a winning formula, again? I'm still not convinced. The hitting's more likely to get worse than better, and the same goes for the bullpen. Meanwhile, there's little reason to expect much improvement from the starting rotation, with neither Chris Tillman nor Jake Arrieta nor Miguel Gonzalez making any real progress toward controlling the strike zone. Josh Stinson, the latest applicant for a job in the rotation, has given up four home runs in four innings (so far).
Leach points out that the Orioles have won 127 games since the 11th of August, 2011. This is impressive. Even more, though, it's incredible, considering the talent the O's have deployed. I hope I'm wrong, because being wrong forces one to reconsider one's beliefs. But for now, I still figure the Orioles have a better chance of finishing in last place than first.
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