Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mike Mussina, 1997 Score Team Collection #8

We're not even a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, and I'm already running out of superlatives to describe the odds-defying success of the Orioles. With their 5-3 win over the Royals today, they claimed the best record in baseball at 25-14. Last year, the O's didn't get to 25 wins until June 3. In the disastrous 2010 campaign, their 25th win came on July 4, leaving them with a 25-56 record. Incidentally, I'd nearly blocked out just how putrid the Birds were two years ago. At least it brought Buck Showalter to town.

One of the many encouraging developments this spring has been the team's success on the road. The Orioles are now 13-5 away from Camden Yards, which is no small feat when you consider that they were 30-51 on the road in 2011. What's more, the win today was Baltimore's seventh consecutive road victory. That's the best streak for the O's since they rattled off 10 straight in late 1999. To illustrate how long ago that was, the tenth and final win in that '99 streak was a 1-0 squeaker in Boston on September 24. Mike Mussina struck out eight Red Sox hitters in six innings, and Scott Kamieniecki and Mike Timlin held the line in relief. Bret Saberhagen was saddled with a hard-luck loss due to Derrick May's RBI single in the fourth inning. (Derrick, son of former Oriole Dave May, finished his 10-year career with a 26-game stint in Baltimore.) The only participants in that game who are still active 13 years later are Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Derek Lowe.

Despite those late-season heroics for the 1999 Birds, the team finished in a distant fourth place at 78-84. A few months ago, most pragmatic O's fans would have considered 78 wins a stretch for this year's team. It's starting to look like we could have aimed higher.

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