The Baltimore Orioles squared off against the Tampa Bay Rays last night in an unlikely showdown; a battle for sole possession of first place in the AL East between the perennial 4th and 5th place teams.
The O's called up Garrett Olsen from AAA Norfolk to make the start and something entirely unforeseeable happened; he pitched effectively. 6 2/3 IP allowing 2 runs in an eventual 7-4 O's victory. The last time I can recall an Orioles pitcher being called up from the minors during the season for a start, and that pitcher subsequently pitching well, would be Mike Mussina.
A number of things are happening to/for the O's this April that haven't happened for years (haven't really checked that, it may just seem like years). O's pitchers do not lead the AL in walks. The O's are 7-2 in one run games. They are 7-0 in games in which they have 10 hits or more. The bullpen is 4th in ERA in the AL. Daniel Cabrera has 4 consecutive quality starts. Aubrey Huff is hitting with power. I've gotten a second chance to post a blog entry with the O's in first place.
While I harbor no suspicions that the O's will continue to win, they've posted a winning mark in April, which is one more winning month than I suspected in March. They've played well. The defense has been outstanding. The pitching has been effective. The offense has been timely.
It's been thoroughly enjoyable watching Orioles baseball this April.