For the second straight year, the O’s have started the year off with a sweep. Last year, they did it in Tampa against the Rays. This year, it was the home OPACY crowd that was witness to a season-opening three-game win streak over the Minnesota Twins.
Against the Twinkies, it was the starting pitching, along with a strong dose of power from the guys you would expect it from, that got the O’s off to their first 3-0 start at home since 1997 (which was, of course, also the last time they finished above .500 and made the post season).
On Friday (Opening day GOOBVISION should be up on Monday), Jake Arrieta went seven scoreless and Nick Markakis homered and tripled as the O’s won the opener 4-2. On Saturday, Tommy Hunter allowed only two unearned runs in seven innings, Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters homered, and B’More emerged victorious 8-2.
Sunday’s starter, Jason Hammel, produced perhaps the most impressive start of the entire weekend in Birdland though, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
While history was not in the cards for Hammel – Justin Morneau and Josh Willinham saw to that with back-to-back doubles to start the eighth – he still managed to get through eight innings, allowing only three walks, two hits, and a single run. A home run from J.J. Hardy and a two-run double by Wilson Betemit were enough offense in the 3-1 victory.
To sum up, O’s starting pitchers’ line through three games:
22 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 10 H, 6 BB, 12 K, 0.41 ERA
Yes, it was against the Twins, a team that looks to be far from an offensive juggernaut in 2012.
Yes, the O’s also started off great last year – 6-1, to be exact – before again falling into disarray and finishing well below .500.
Still, for a team whose main questions entering the year surround the pitching staff, the first three days could absolutely have not gone any more perfectly.
Is it giving us a sense of false hope?
Perhaps, but as a Baltimore Orioles fan, we’re ready to accept any and all forms of hope, however false they may ultimately prove to be.
Things are about to get a lot tougher, as the New York Yankees (0-3 and certainly quite pissed off) come to town for a three game series before the O’s head out on an early-season nine-game road trip to Toronto (2-1 and everybody’s sexy pick to make some AL East noise), Chicago (1-1), and Anaheim (1-1, proud owners of a slightly used but still entirely effective Albert Pujols).
It was a great opening weekend of Orioles baseball. Now that our whistle has been sufficiently whet, we orange and black lovers in Birdland are very thirsty for some more of the same. Hopefully Buck’s boys will continue to deliver.