Just when you think you have a handle on the Orioles, they surprise you.
The O’s went into New York, and fans expected them to lose. They won two out of three to take the series.
They went into Toronto, and fans expected them to lose. They won two out of three to take the series.
They took an early 3-0 lead over the Yankees in the home opener Thursday afternoon, in front of 44,182 fans who believed the Orioles’ recent magic would continue. They lost 8-4.
Considering where expectations were entering 2019, a 4-3 record should still feel like a monumental success for the Orioles. And based on the current roster, it’s unlikely the team will stay above .500 for long. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though, and the players certainly aren’t giving up after a single loss.
“I still feel confidence, I still feel good,” said Mike Wright, who allowed the three-run homer that gave the Yankees the lead for good. “I’m excited about this team, definitely excited to move forward.”
Even with the players understanding this was just one game out of 162, there’s obviously extra energy that comes with Opening Day.
There’s nothing quite like the first home game, especially in a town that loves its baseball. Every baseball cliche rings true in that first game. It can be frustrating, then, for the home team to lose, especially to bitter rivals. Baltimore's wins on the road leading up to the excitement of the 3-0 first inning lead ultimately felt like a tease.
The O’s themselves certainly aren’t buying into their own hype after a fast start. Four wins doesn’t mean much of anything in the grand scheme of things. But that doesn’t take away the fun ride of the first week of the season, nor the team’s stubborn belief in itself.
It also doesn’t take away how draining the first week has been, even with the impressive record.
“Need it,” manager Brandon Hyde replied instantly when asked about Friday’s off day. “Big time, we need it. It’s been a grind week. Our bullpen guys have thrown a ton of high stress innings. Tomorrow is much needed.”
Alex Cobb, who threw 5.2 impressive innings in his 2019 debut, appreciated the crowd at the game.
“It was fun,” Cobb said afterwards. “You really just cherish any time you can go out into a big league game and there’s that type of atmosphere.”
The pitcher wasn’t shy about the team’s ultimate goal this season, regardless of how unattainable it might sound to fans.
“Obviously our goal is to get that type of atmosphere in the playoffs,” Cobb continued. “And in September when you’re chasing that playoff spot...It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it, the crowd was great. They cheered us a lot, and I wish we could have given them a victory to go home to.”
Hyde also gushed about his experience in his first game in Baltimore.
“A lot longer than it looks,” Hyde laughed when describing what it was like running down the fabled Orange Carpet for the first time. “Especially if you go to give five to your teammates and then your coaches. But no, it was very, very special.
The manager continued to praise the fans in attendance.
“The crowd reaction was phenomenal,” Hyde went on. “It was everything I hoped it to be. This was great energy in the ballpark today. Loved it. Loved how the fans came out and were loud. I just thought it was a great environment today.”
Hyde received the loudest cheers of anyone during pregame introductions, a surprise considering he’s a rookie manager in his first home game. It speaks to how quickly the fanbase has embraced both him and the rest of the new regime in Baltimore.
Just about the only thing that went wrong for the Orioles today was the game itself. Of course, when the Orioles lost a similar game to this last week, they turned around to win four straight.
It's important to remember that in the first game of the first series of the season, Luke Voit hit a 3-run homer in a big Yankees win.— NBC Sports Orioles (@NBCSOrioles) April 4, 2019
The Orioles still won the series. Don't give up hope just yet.
Wright and the team see this loss as the same type of opportunity.
“You want to take it the same way you did that first New York series,” Wright, Thursday’s losing pitcher, told media members. “Lose the first one, take the next two.”
It’s a message of confidence and, more importantly, resilience the Orioles will carry throughout the season. It stems from Hyde’s leadership, and clearly resonates with the players.
Will it lead to more wins? Maybe. It’s hard to tell after just seven games, and the team hasn’t lost a series yet. But it’s obvious the Orioles have no plans of going down easily.
To them, this week was the first of many this season in which they plan to surprise people. And enjoy doing it.
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