When the Baltimore Orioles play the Texas Rangers, a lot of memories surface.
For example, the Rangers are the team that beat the Orioles 33-3, which opened the door for Buck Showalter to manage Baltimore during one of their most successful stretches of play.
The Rangers are the team that gave the O’s Chris Davis, who for a decade wowed fans with his massive, towering home runs.
Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos know the Rangers as the team they started out with and can reflect on where their careers have gone from there in O’s uniforms today.
This time though, the Orioles can take solace in having the Rangers be the first sweep of the 2022 season and first sweep in nearly a year.
A three-game series that had fireworks, nail-biting endings and one fine pitchers duel showed the grit that this Orioles team has built this season.
Not only are the Orioles five games under .500, but they now are 11-11-4 in series on the year. A team picked by everyone to be one of the worst in baseball has been giving top teams fits and playing the game for a full nine innings, regardless of the score.
This series had unsung heros, such as Ryan McKenna and Spenser Watkins contribute big and become part of determining games.
McKenna, who had to step in out of need, would go 3-for-7 (.429) in the series, scoring four runs, collecting two RBIs and hitting one of the most clutch home runs of the season thus far.
McKenna’s homer would not only ascend over Mount Wall-timore, it would put the Orioles ahead going into the ninth inning, a game the Orioles won in 10 innings, 10-9, becoming the first team to ever give up a game-tying or leading home run in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings and still come out victorious.
Monday night saw McKenna score the tying run in the bottom of the ninth. Coming in as a pinch runner, rookie phenom Adley Rutschman would provide the hit that would tie the game the Orioles would eventually win, 7-6, in 10 innings.
The other unsung hero of the series would be Spenser Watkins, the right-hander, who seems to be showing fans that we might have another dependable starter in the mix.
Coming into Wednesday’s affair, Watkins had yet to pitch six innings in his career, yet pitched into the seventh on a hot, humid night in Charm City. Watkins would pick up his second win of the season, but it’s the confidence since returning from the IL that has changed his outlook.
In three games since coming off the injured list, Watkins is sporting a 1.02 ERA, helping to contribute to a rotation pitching to a 2.52 ERA since June 16, the best in the majors.
As the series showed out unsung heros, it also gave redemption to one of the best out of the bullpen in 2022.
Jorge López had blown three straight save attempts, two leading to losses. He entered Wednesday night with the O’s up 2-1 in the top of the ninth.
A long drive to right from Brad Miller was a moment everyone held their breath, for what seemed like eternity, before becoming a long out.
López regained his swagger, notching his 14th save and leading the Orioles to a four-game winning streak and win No. 39 this season.
The Baltimore Battery ❌-Factor heading into this serious was the O’s bullpen stepping up and returning to its dominant form.
Unfortunately, for the first two games, the bullpen failed to live up to the task. But in game three, they came to play and showed why they are a tough outing when all cylinders are firing.
For the Orioles, the improvements are easy to see. What’s different this year is the team believes in themselves, which makes the wins that much sweeter and the loses sting a bit more.
The fun continues Thursday, as the Los Angeles Angels comes to town for a four-game series. Thankfully, the O’s won’t have to face Shohei Ohtani on the mound.
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