The Other McCain

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The Hottest Team in Baseball

Posted on | July 24, 2023 | Comments Off on The Hottest Team in Baseball

Baltimore Orioles ace reliever Felix Bautista

The city of Baltimore has a lot to be ashamed of, including a failed school system, out-of-control crime and sending Rep. Kweisi Mfume to Congress. Despite its many woes, however, Baltimore has at least one source of municipal pride — the Orioles are the hottest team in baseball.

As I told you last week, the O’s were facing a huge test in their four-game weekend series in Tampa against the Rays, who had led the American League East division all year, until Baltimore got on a wining streak right before the All-Star break. The Orioles won three out of four games at Tampa, and now have a two-game lead in the AL East:

The Baltimore Orioles are making a very real push in the AL East.
The Orioles, fresh off the franchise’s second-ever four-game series win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, now hold a two-game lead over the Rays in the division entering the final 10 weeks of the season.
Baltimore won three of four in the series, which makes 12 wins in 15 games for a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2016 and trailed the Rays in the division by 6.5 games at the start of the month. . . .
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn hit a solo home run in the sixth inning Sunday night to break a 3-3 tie and give Baltimore the lead. O’Hearn drilled the left-field foul pole with his 331-foot shot, which marked the shortest home run on the team this season and just his fourth career homer against a lefty.
Anthony Santander then hit an RBI single in the seventh inning to push Baltimore to a 5-3 lead, which it rode the rest of the way for the two-run win. . . .
Baltimore has seen the playoffs just three times in the past 26 seasons. The Orioles haven’t won the AL East since 2014, the same year they got swept by the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.

Two words missing from that story: World Series.

Baltimore last won the series in 1983, and haven’t been back for 40 years. As all the sports writers acknowledge, the O’s were supposed to still be in “rebuilding” mode this season, and when Tampa got off to such a hot start — they won their first 13 games and on April 24, were 20-3 (.870) — the consensus seemed to be that the Orioles might be lucky to make it to the playoffs as a wild card. But the past three weeks have shattered that consensus, and pundits who’d been ignoring Baltimore are beginning to take notice. A big part of the reason the O’s are now seen as a contender is because of reliever Felix Bautista. The last time a relief pitcher won the Cy Young Award was 2003, when Eric Gagne of the Dodgers saved 55 games. Bautista has already gotten 28 saves. He’s struck out 96 batters in 49 total innings, with an 0.92 ERA.

Anyway, tonight, the Orioles begin a three-game series in Philadelphia — talk about a city with a lot to be ashamed of! — and if Baltimore can win just one of those games against the Phillies, they’ll be guaranteed to still be leading the AL East when they come back home Thursday to begin a four-game series against the New York Yankees. Let ’em beat the Yankees good and hard, and then everybody will be paying attention.



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