This week I made it to a game at Target Field where the Orioles came to town to give an exhibition of their strength on the Twins. Mark Trumbo his two home runs in the game and Chris Davis had another to put themselves and teammate Manny Machado all into the top five in the AL for dingers.
In 2013 my wife lived in Baltimore for a year while I was Arizona and we had a chance to make it out to an Orioles game at Camden Yards. I got a Machado shirt and she got a Cal Ripken shirt. I think she mostly got it because she liked the name and how the number 8 looked. I was impressed by her eye to pick the best player in Baltimore history. I wasn't the biggest fan of Cal while I was growing up because he would play against the Red Sox but appreciated him enough to have a Cal Ripken "Iron Man" poster on my wall.
One of the main draws for us to go to that particular game as the Orioles were in the middle of the AL East pack was that it was Beatles fireworks night. It was pretty impressive how they were able to sync up the pyrotechnics to the music after the game, but it was a little concerning how low they fired them off from right-center field. There were a couple of stadium employees stationed in the outfield whose purpose was to stomp out embers that had gotten into the outfield grass.
This year's team has fashioned their lineup to break out much like the Blue Jays did last year, with an overabundance of power. Adam Jones might be the centerpiece player of the team, but even as he is having a slow start to this year (hitting only .236 so far) the Orioles have powered themselves to first in the AL East. Manny Machado is establishing himself as the 3B/SS that Cal Ripken once was, a great fielder with power and a .360 avg in the early going.
The Orioles are still not as good as their ceiling, Pedro Alvarez has had a bad start and is getting bumped out of the lineup by Nolan Reimold (.348 avg). As a Pittsburgh Pirate, Alvarez had a tendency to have terrible starts pretty much every year before having a stronger rest of the season, at least offensively.
The pitching for the O's is better than expected, although Ubaldo Jimenez and Mike Wright have ERA's near or over 5, the rest of their rotation, Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Tyler Wilson have ERA's at or below 3. The bullpen is lights out so far, closer Zach Britton's ERA is 1.88, setup men Brad Brach and Darren O'Day have ERA's of 1.00 and 2.03. Mychel Givens, Dylan Bundy, and Vance Worley all also have ERA's under 3.
The Red Sox are right on the heels of the Orioles right now and their teams are almost mirror images of each other and they both have energy in their fan bases of being elite for the first time in a few years, although it's a few more years for Baltimore.