Monday, May 3, 2010

O's Sweep Red Sox

Ty Wigginton celebrates after his walk-off hit gave the O's the sweep over the Red Sox.

Yeah, you just read that right.

The Orioles completed the first 3-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox yesterday, winning 3-2 in 10 innings. The win came after a 5-4 10-inning win on Friday and a 12-9 slugfest on Saturday night.

It was the first 3-game sweep of the Red Sox since 1998 and the first sweep of the Sox in Baltimore since 1974 (!). feels good to say something like that after the start the Orioles have had this year doesn't it?

The Orioles are 7-18 and have won 5 of their last 7 games. And while a sweep of the Red Sox is just what the doctor ordered, we shouldn't stop taking our medicine just yet.

At 11-14, the Red Sox have gotten off to a slow start (for them -- O's fans would be ecstatic to have that record now) and look like a different team than the one that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. Their offense, while still able to get on base (5th best in the AL), they don't have that Manny Ramirez presence in their line-up any longer. Plus, "Boston" and "good pitching" have been synonymous over the last 6 years -- and thus far, Boston's pitching ranks 12th in the AL. By comparison the O's are better, at 10th in the AL.

So, it's important to put this sweep into perspective. These are not the Red Sox of the mid-2000's. And while they should still end up a very good team that likely contend for the Wild Card, they just aren't playing very good baseball now.

But that's not to take anything away from the Orioles. Earning a sweep over any team right now is a major accomplishment, and the fact that it was against the Red Sox -- with thousands of Red Sox fans in the stands at Camden Yards -- makes it even sweeter.

That's not where the good news ends, either.

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis finally woke up and started producing like we thought they would. Jones went 7-14 in the series, raising his average to .241. Markakis also had 7 hits in the series and had 5 RBI in the 12-9 win on Saturday night. And Ty Wigginton, by far the Orioles best hitter right now (.329/8/15/1.157), hit 2 HR in the Saturday night win and had the walk-off hit yesterday in the 10th.

The pitching also came up big, at least in 2 of the 3 games. Luckily the offense picked up the pitching on Saturday when the Red Sox scored 9 runs. But David Hernandez continues to get the job done, although he doesn't go as deep into games as you would like to see. He pitched 5.1 IP on Friday night, allowing 2 ER with 5 BB and 3 K's. While he is walking a tightrope with the walks, he has managed to stay out of trouble and has a 4.55 ERA on the season. Not bad for a #5 starter.

But it was Kevin Millwood who turned in the series' most gutsy pitching performance, going 8 IP yesterday, allowing just 5 hits with 4 BB and 4 K's. Thankfully, the bullpen held up, with Will Ohman and Matt Albers each going a scoreless inning in relief, and Albers earning his second win in the series. This was a good week for Albers, since I thought he was a candidate to be released after some terrible performances against the Red Sox in Boston.

So where do the O's go from here? New York, actually, to take on the Yankees who just won 2 of 3 from the White Sox. And while I am very happy the O's just pulled off a sweep of the Red Sox, I am not ready to throw the team a parade just yet.

If the O's can keep the momentum going, and manage to take 2 of 3 from the Yanks, then I might be willing to do just that.

In the meantime my fingers are crossed.

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