Jim Thome got hot against his former team, belting home runs in each of the series’ first two games.
A little bit less than a week after it looked like the wheels were completely falling off on the O’s 2012 season, this group of Birds is proving much more resilient than many of their predecessors.
Apparently, trips to Minnesota and Cleveland were exactly what the doctor ordered, as Buck Showalter’s club has reeled off five consecutive victories, taking the final two against the Twins and the first three against the Indians.
If they can manage the four-game sweep in Cleveland today, it will be Baltimore’s first such accomplishment over the Indians in Ohio since way back in 1971.
The key over the past five days has been exactly what got the O’s started so hot to begin the 2012 campaign – pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Birds starters have turned in an extremely impressive five straight quality starts, with Wei-Yin Chen, Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, and Zach Britton all getting in on the act.
The O’s continue to give us fans heart attacks though, as their string of extremely close wins continues. With the exception of Friday night’s 10-2 bashing of the Tribe, eight of the team’s last 10 wins have been by a margin of one run, with the other two coming by a margin of two.
On Sunday afternoon, they entered the bottom of the ninth inning with a 4-0 lead before Cleveland put three on the board and had the tying and winning runs on base against closer Jim Johnson. Johnson held on for his MLB-leading 30th save, and the O’s won their 51st game of the season.
Speaking of 50+ wins, this year marks the second fastest that the team has reached that plateau in the last decade, and the fastest since 2005.
Dates that the O’s reached win #50:
2003: July 29
2004: August 6
2005: July 18
2006: August 5
2007: July 31
2008: July 27
2009: August 21
2010: September 4
2011: August 24
2012: July 21
With the Yankees getting swept in Oakland, their lead over the O’s in the American League East is down to just six games. In the Wild Card race, the O’s and A’s are tied for the second spot, just 0.5 games behind Anaheim.
Hopefully the Birds can get the sweep today, as Hunter takes on Justin Masterson. Worst case scenario, the Birds have paid the Tribe back after Cleveland came in to Baltimore and took three of four at the end of June.