Sunday, June 4, 2023

Soldiers of Orange

The new schedule means that fun matchups you wouldn't normally see get to happen all the time. For instance- Orioles vs. Giants. Battle of the Orange teams from opposite sides of the country.

While the series did end up going Baltimore's way, it was an intriguing look at two teams at different positions on the totem pole. The O's, ever the punchline, are currently second in the AL East and surging; the Giants, a season or so removed from a huge, west-leading year, are in third and buckling under .500. 

Both teams are ironically dealing with a major hole in the lineup, and are using varying ways of mending them. The Orioles are currently without one of their marquee stars, Cedric Mullins, who's out for a week or so. In his place, they've called up Aaron Hicks, who was recently let go from a multi-year deal with the Yankees on account of his inefficiency. Hicks so far has honestly been really impressive, with his bat off to a nice start, and a contribution of an RBI during today's game. He's not Mullins, let's be clear, but he's a decent enough fill-in, and has improved on his New York run. The Giants have been without Thairo Estrada, and have been swapping around infielders, such as Casey Schmitt and Brett Wisely in order to fill the void. Schmitt is the better option, hitting .295 and providing some infield flair, but he might be the better choice for shortstop.

The injuries are also beginning to hit the Giants elsewhere, as both Alex Wood and Ross Stripling are missing time, meaning Sean Manaea will have to start games again, and possibly Jakob Junis might need to as well. Webb, Cobb and Disco have been insanely strong, but the depth may soon run out, and that could be worrying. Around all the lineup injuries are great performances from Blake Sabol, J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto and LaMonte Wade Jr., who's already making up for a diluted 2022 season. 

But I do see why it was so difficult for the Giants to stop this O's team this week, because they're really firing on all cylinders. This team has managed to find Adam Frazier's spark, Kyle Gibson's durability and, well, Aaron Hicks' bat. The heroes, like Rutschman, Mountcastle, Mateo and Bautista, are worth the hype. The sleepers, like Tyler Wells, Austin Hays and Bryan Baker, are equally important. And we're beginning to see results from Gunnar Henderson, which is definitely a step in the right direction. So many once-faulty pieces of this team are working right now, and they've been equally as deadly on the road. 

It feels very interesting that Gabe Kapler's efficient Giants have finally been outdone by a sneakier, more resourceful team, and this Orioles series just about proves it.

Coming Tomorrow- A guy who hit a grand slam today.

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