I know we haven’t closed out the first month of the major league baseball season, but right now I can look at the standings…close my eyes…and envision the early 1980s.
And you run….you run so far away…
Seriously, though, for Orioles and Royals fans (and I’m an unabashed if frustrated fan of both), this is heady stuff. The O’s, like everybody else in the AL East, are chasing the resurgent Red Sox, but they enter play today at a very respectable 13-9 through the first seven percent of regular-season games.
And the Royals? My goodness. Alex Gordon’s grand slam yesterday put the Royals atop the AL Central — atop the Central! — at 11-8.
How are they doing it? Well, for the Royals, it’s as expected. Bringing in James Shields has gone as expected as the innings-eater has gone deep in all his scheduled starts, but Wade Davis has been a pleasant shock as he returned to the starting rotation after serving as a reliever in Tampa. People keep waiting for the Jeremy Guthrie wheels to fall off, but he’s been solid. And even though Shields has been tough and Davis has surprised, the biggest rotation shocker has been Ervin Santana, who has looked mahvelous in all his starts save for the home opener.
Aside from a few hiccups, the bullpen has been strong, and now with Greg Holland stabilizing after a rocky beginning, things look pretty settled on the pitching front.
Actually, the Royals’ pitching has offset virtually all the offensive woes. Virtually, because despite a slow start from Billy Butler and an atrocious opening three weeks from Mike Moustakas, KC has done a better-than-average job of doing enough offensively to get wins.
Baltimore? The offense has come and gone, but one constant is a holdover from last year — and that’s the penchant to get extra-inning wins. Process this: the O’s won 16 straight extra-inning affairs last year until they ran into the hated, despised, loathed Yankees in the playoffs last year. The regular-season streak officially extended to 17 this year before a 6-5 loss to Toronto this week.
That’s not supposed to happen.
And the same could be said of Baltimore in general. Everybody said the O’s were a smoke-and-mirrors team last year. Run production wasn’t where it needed to be. Starting pitching was an issue. Guess what? Those concerns were valid then, and now that they seem to be in play this year, they are valid this season as well. But sometimes you just have to ride the storm out.
Fans of these franchises are understandably happy, but they aren’t giddy just yet. First, there are enough holes with both squads where things could go south in a hurry. It’s not just the nature of the baseball beast, though. It’s both the luck and, to a degree, the mojo or karma which has followed both franchises for close to 30 years.
But dude, when it’s going good, it’s good. And who knows? Maybe O’s and Royals fans can be turned loose this postseason.
I wanna flyyyyy, baby. Turn me loose.