Sweet relief! Yesterday, the Orioles won for the first time in their last sixteen Sunday games, breaking a run at historic futility. Amazingly, the O's hadn't ended their weekend with a win since the first week of the season, when they topped Seattle on April 6. During the losing streak, they were outscored 83-43. The Birds' Sunday record now stands at 2-15; they're 47-40 from Monday through Saturday, which is enough to drive a fan crazy with "wouldas" and "shouldas".
As the Seventh-Day Skein slogged on through the summer, the players, coaches, and even the organization at large tried everything. The Orioles attempted to draw weary fans to the park on two consecutive Sundays by promising free tickets to any future game if the team won that day; instead, those who were enticed by the offers sat through losses fourteen and fifteen. Jay Payton suggested (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that the team should resort to ritualistic animal sacrifices. Manager Dave Trembley flat out guaranteed a win on July 20 vs. the Tigers, and attempted to shake things up by having the O's wear their orange batting practice jerseys on that day. Instead, they were shut down by Justin Verlander. Yesterday, first baseman Kevin Millar gathered the team in the clubhouse before the game and performed some sort of mysterious ritual that was not divulged to the outside world. Whatever it was, it must have finally done the trick.
Of course, some skillful pitching by Garrett Olson didn't hurt either. The green southpaw slammed the door on a miserable four-start stretch in which his ERA had risen by nearly a run and a half. He allowed only two runs to an Angels lineup that had battered the Orioles for seventeen runs in the first two games of their series, and more importantly, he allowed the bullpen to sit easy until the seventh inning. Olson has an impressive minor league resume, and had shown flashes of that talent during the early portion of this season, winning five of his first six decisions before seeming to hit the wall. One of his problems is a reluctance to challenge hitters, pitching around opposing bats. It's hard to imagine that the sneering, bad-ass mamma jamma pictured above would ever be tentative. Just looking at this card gives me confidence in Garrett Olson. Maybe he needs to give it a look before each start, as a reminder that he's the baddest young lefty in the majors, straight from the mean streets of Fresno. He'll take what he wants, and there's no one that's going to stop him.
Heck, maybe he looked at this card yesterday afternoon. Whatever it takes.