After a miserable post-All Star Break performance, the Orioles are providing fans with some September highlights.
The Birds are still losing more than they’re winning with a 6-7 mark this month; however, the team already has exceeded its September win totals from 2008 (5-20) and 2002 (4-24).
The O’s are already more than halfway to their traditional 10 September wins, a mark they reached in 2007 (10-19), 2006 (10-18), 2005 (10-18), and 2003 (10-16).
The team’s best September mark this decade came in 2004 when they went 18-10, which they followed up with a 42-28 start to the 2005 season. How does 60-38 sound?
Nevertheless, I’ve argued multiple times (here, here) that the team’s second-half record in 2009 offers little indication of how the O’s will perform in 2010.
A better indicator of the team’s future potential is a series of moments the O’s have produced during the 2009 season that provide ample reason to believe that Birds fans are not just being sold a bill of baseball goods.
Here are five Orioles moments from the 2009 season that, as Poison once said, give me something to believe in.
1. Nolan Reimold’s Magical May
The 2009 season started with questions about who would play left field for the O’s. Nolan Reimold provided the answer.
Reimold homered in three consecutive games during a five-game Orioles win-streak in May, including an 11th inning, three-run, walk-off blast to power a 12-10 victory and series sweep of the Blue Jays.
The consecutive home-run streak came during Reimold’s 12th, 13th, and 14th games in the bigs.
Organizational depth. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
2. A September Surprise
One day later Brian Matusz pitched a gem in his final outing of the season to give the Birds their first road-series win against an A.L. East opponent in 2009. And it just so happened to come against the best team in baseball.
This is the cavalry of which Dave Trembley spoke.
3. Brian Roberts Doubles Down
Roberts is the fourth player in MLB history to post three seasons with 50 or more doubles. The others are Hall of Famers: Tris Speaker, Paul Waner and Stan Musial.
During a season when he’s been questioned about everything from his leadership to his hustle, Roberts has posted career highs in doubles and RBI and is closing in on his best years for runs scored and home runs.
He will soon record his fourth consecutive season with 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases.
That’s leadership by example.
4. Nick Markakis’ Quiet Consistency
Nick Markakis is listed as one of the most underrated players in baseball. If he keeps posting seasons with a .300 average, 20 home runs, and 100 RBI Baltimore’s best-kept secret will be covert no longer.
Markakis is in good position to finish with a .300 average for the third straight season after batting .291 as a rookie. Meanwhile, his 13 outfield assists are tied for second in the American League. He led the category in 2008 with 17 outfield assists.
Roberts and Markakis re-upped with the team in the off-season and their numbers haven’t gone down, which has fans debating which player should be named Most Valuable Oriole?
5. Matt Wieters Finishing Strong
Matt Wieters rallied the O’s from a five-run deficit on Tuesday with a two-run single and a three-run homer.
He hit a two-run, walk-off homer on Wednesday and twice gunned down Carl Crawford on stolen-base attempts, which had happened to Crawford just once before during his eight-year career.
The kid has arrived.
Matt Taylor is author of the popular Baltimore Orioles’ sports blog Roar from 34 and is a regular contributor to Baltimore Sports Then and Now.