The ultra-long west coast road trip Comes to an end and the Royals come to town…

Manny Machado #13 and Nate McLouth #9 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate after both score on Machado's two run home run in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 5, 2013 in Anaheim, California.

Why does it seem like the Orioles have been out west forever?

Well, as of tonight, their long, epic journey is over. It was an eleven game trip and the good news is that the Orioles emerged from it going 7-4 against the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

If this trip had been circa 2012, their record coming home would have been reversed – or worse; however, this team is ultra-resilient and has a core of players that can compete against anyone in baseball right now.

A lot of naysayers believed there could be no way that the Orioles could possibly be as good as they were in 2012. Yes, a lot of flukish things happened last season; however, this team looks like a true contender – not a pretender, or lucky.

Yes, the starting pitching isn’t going as deep as expected (aside from the start that We-Yin Chen had against Oakland and Chris Tillman’s gem against the Angels) and adam Jones miscues in centerfield are annoying, but the bullpen and offense has been a rock.

Manny Machado is playing beyond his years; Jones – despite his fielding foibles – is playing like a true leader and Chris Davis toughed it out after injuring his ankle. Let’s not forget the ultra-hot Nate McLouth and the solid play of Wieters behind the plate. So the bottom half of the lineup looks like a black hole, but J.J. Hardy had a few clutch hits this weekend in light of his poor batting average.

That must improve, and the starters must go deeper into games – especially once summer comes around.

But so far, so good.

As we all know, the expectations for this team have changed. So far, they are meeting them.

Again, you have to credit Buck Showalter for the job he has done with this franchise. He has them believing in themselves, and it’s looking like the Orioles are definitely for real – and may be for a long time.

One of my best buds, who is a Yankee fan in New Jersey does not fear the Red Sox, Rays or the disappointing Blue Jays.

He fears the black and orange. After a decade of futility, Baltimore has a team that they can be proud of. The past has been vanquished and the Orioles have a chance of having a solid team for a very long time.

They are now 19-13, and are a solid 12-8 on the road this season. The past two weeks have shown us what the Orioles are made of.

Right now, they look like winners. It’s still early, of course, in terms of the baseball season; however, they have done what they needed to do.

This week will be intriguing as the Kansas Royals come into town. They – much like the Blue Jays – have been picked to be contenders in the American League, and so far they are playing that role.

Much like the Orioles, the Royals have a good young core ready to break out. It will be interesting to see if they can play meaningful games in the summer, much like the Orioles did last year, or they run into roadblocks.

I’m not going to obviously root for the Royals when they play the Birds; however, I do hope that they shake up the sport much like the Orioles did in 2012.