O’s in good position after home stand

Nick Markakis steps into the batters box last Monday in the first inning of the Orioles 2-1 win over the Braves in extra innings.
Nick Markakis steps into the batters box last Monday in the first inning of the Orioles 2-1 win over the Braves in extra innings.

July wasn’t particularly kind to the Baltimore Orioles.

That is, until the end.

The team was 11-14 during the month; including losing three games in a row on three separate occasions and dropping four consecutive games once. However, Baltimore’s longest streak of July was a five-game win streak as part of a home stand that may have saved its season.

The Orioles won the final two games of a three-game series in St. Petersburg against the Rays, and then rattled off three more wins in a row at home against the Atlanta Braves.

Monday’s win over Atlanta came in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 11th inning, as Matt Wieters sent the second pitch he saw from Braves reliever Luis Avilán into the bleachers in center field for the 2-1 victory.

Being on hand to see it in person, – thankfully staying for “one more inning,” as we agreed as a family, to see the game-winning blast – it was great to see the win that got the Orioles back to a .500 record and fully back into the playoff race. It was also great to be on hand as over 26,000 Baltimore fans gave Nick Markakis a standing ovation in his first plate appearance in Oriole Park at Camden Yards since leaving the team in the off season.

By sweeping the Braves and splitting a four-game series with the Tigers, Baltimore went 5-2 over its most recent home stretch, giving it some momentum heading into the month of August, where it will play its next nine games on the West Coast.

Baltimore will need the momentum as it heads to Oakland, a city it seems to not play well in. However, unlike the Orioles, the Athletics haven’t been playing well as of late, having lost seven of its last eight.

Some momentum may have been lost Sunday, though, when Baltimore dropped the series finale against Detroit as the Orioles couldn’t recover from Ubaldo Jiménez’s rough first inning.

The other two teams Baltimore will play over the next 1 ½ weeks are the Angels and Mariners, two clubs that, like the A’s, aren’t playing their best baseball either. Seattle currently sits 10 games under .500 and Los Angeles has surrendered its lead of the American League West division to Houston, who the Angles trail by four games.

Baltimore has played at a 9-7 clip since the All-Star break, which has brought the team back into the Wild Card race, as it now sits just one game out of the second Wild Card spot.

Another positive sign from the club as of late was the signing of outfielder Gerardo Parra just before the trade deadline. Parra, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, and good hitter, was fourth in the NL in batting average when he was traded from the Brewers. He continued to hit well in his first game with his new club, doubling to right field to begin his Orioles career on Saturday.

Signing Parra was just was the Orioles needed, considering how much the O’s rely on the long ball to supply run support, the move balances out the offense. It also gives manager Buck Showalter flexibility at the top of the lineup, and gives the Orioles consistency in left field.

Baltimore still sits six games behind the Yankees in the AL East, but due to its play as of late, Orioles fans will hopefully be continuing to watch meaningful games in September and October.

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