The Orioles did not have a good weekend up in New York City and were on their way to a demoralizing three-game sweep. For the most part, Baltimore had good pitching in the series; however, the offense could not come through as needed.
Across Birdland, fans were fretting on sports talk radio and online about the state of the team. Little had gone right for the Orioles until this afternoon.
When Mariano Rivera – closer for the Yankees and undoubtedly the greatest reliever of all time – came to mound in the ninth inning, it looked like the Orioles were going to lose. It would be academic, everyone would talk about how great Rivera is, the Orioles would look foolish and Frank Sinatra's rendition of "New York, New York" would be playing in the background signifying a Yankee win.
That would not happen today.
Adam Jones came up to the plate for Baltimore in the ninth inning with one out in the frame. With Nick Markakis on first, Jones took a Rivera offering and deposited into the left field seats.
With a 2-1 lead, the Orioles needed their closer to finish things up.
Jim Johnson, as of late, has been under speculation about his job status. The question amongst many was, “Is it time to bring in Tommy Hunter to close? Or O’Day? Does Buck give Johnson some time off to collect his thoughts and figure out what is wrong?”
Some fans were even questioning Buck Showalter on his managing skills.
Did the skipper decide to give his regular closer a night off?
Nope. Johnson came to the mound in the ninth inning and got three straight outs.
The Birds won 2-1, and ended a bad road trip on a positive note. They come home to Camden Yards after a 2-4 road trip and play seven straight games at home before the All-Star break.
For now, fans can back away from the edge of the cliff and relax. Listening to the radio while in my Jeep for much of the weekend, you would have thought that the Orioles were at a crisis point.
As my tag team partner James noted, we as fans just have to relax.
They are in a rough patch, but are 49-40 now. Things could be worse. We are a little bit past the halfway point of the season and about three months more of regular season of baseball to play.
The bad news is that the Boston Red Sox don’t seem to know to lose and have a five game lead in the division. Furthermore, the Yankees only trail the Orioles by ½ a game and the Rays are also at 49-40.
We all knew the division was going to be tough this season. Now, we know it’s going to be a dog fight – potentially – to close out the 2013 campaign.
They should have at least taken two out of three against the lowly White Sox and put up more of a fight against the rival Yankees.
The Orioles just need to right the ship and beat who they need to beat.