If you predicted the Orioles would have a winning record — with a series win and sweep — through the team’s first eight games, come cash in your ticket.
The Orioles are 5-3 through the first three series of the season having beaten the Red Sox in the season-opening series and then, after two losses to the Yankees, rebounding to sweep the Rays in a three-game set from Friday-to-Sunday.
The hitting has been consistent, the starting pitching is improved from a year ago and the bullpen has rebounded in the last seven games to quietly piece together nice outings. The end result was a sweep of the Rays on Sunday at Camden Yards.
It was the Orioles’ first three-game sweep of an opponent since 2018 when they swept the Blue Jays in late August.
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“We all play together,” Renato Nunez said. “Things are happening really good for us. Pitchers are throwing really good, starters and relievers, everybody is swinging the bat well, we’re bunting. I think we’re playing baseball.”
So far, the Orioles have had incredible contributions from some unlikely sources. Or, at least, unexpectedly good contributions.
Jose Iglesias is 10-for-19 on the season with five doubles and four RBIs. Hanser Alberto is 15-for-33 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs. The starting pitching has been solid, despite no starter lasting into the seventh inning this season. The bullpen, while it’s had some rough spots, has been good enough to hang onto leads.
When the team lost to the Red Sox 13-2 to start the season, expectations — which were already incredibly low — fell even further. But now, the Orioles have gone 5-2 since that game (with both losses to the Yankees) and have put together a nice start to the season.
“We got 30 guys here, they’re playing for each other,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That was kind of my goal coming in last year, was to start to create a culture of guys playing for each other. I know what that feels like, I knew what I came from and how there’s not a better feeling to going out and having guys that truly care about playing the game hard, caring about your teammates. We have that.”
Hyde credited the starting pitching as a big pivot from last year’s dismal team.
“That was something that was a question mark, we just didn’t know with the quick Summer Camp, two-and-a-half, three week Summer Camp, how our starters were going to do and how long we could go with them and how sharp they would be,” Hyde said. “And we’ve had some really really good starts.”
Sunday, the Orioles were led by Tommy Milone, who signed a minor league deal in February. He threw five innings, allowed six hits, just one run (a home run), walked none and struck out eight.
Their best hitter, Alberto, has played for multiple organizations in his young career, but his start to the season has been mighty impressive. The pitcher that notched the save, Cole Sulser, made his major league debut at 29-years-old and tallied back-to-back saves against the team that DFA’d him a year ago.
While the hot start has been fun, and unexpected, they’ve still yet to play 10 games and a losing streak could end it all in a hurry. The Orioles, after all, weren't predicted to do very much in the 2020 season.
But for now, the Orioles’ clubhouse is a fun place to be.
“We have some great stories,” Hyde said. “We have so many guys designated for assignment. You look around the field in the Yankees series, look at the Yankees and look at us. How many guys we had on the field that have been DFA’d, traded, released, and hanging right in there. I’m really proud of our guys for all that. It’s not easy to move organizations, be told that, ‘We don’t want you anymore,’ and continue to compete. And these guys are doing that."
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