Mike Elias says “it’s liftoff from here” for the surprising Orioles

Hello, friends.

How do you like the sound of the Orioles sweeping a season series against an opponent? They pulled this off yesterday when they finished a three-game sweep of the Rangers with a 6-2 victory. Combined with a sweep in Baltimore back in July, the O’s went 6-0 against the Rangers this year. It’s another reminder that there’s something different about this team. Check out Andrea’s recap of the game for the lovely totals.

Wednesday’s win brought the Orioles up to a 54-51 record on the season. This is a notable number of wins because in the Mike Elias era of the team, it’s the most number of wins the team has had in a single season. They finished the 2019 campaign at 54-108. This is just a little bit better than that.

It is hard to say where all of this will end up. It still seems unlikely to me that the rest of the team will be able to carry this starting rotation into the playoffs. For now, though, they’re right in the hunt with 57 games left to play. The Orioles kept pace with the competition by winning on Wednesday. They’re 1.5 games back of the third wild card spot, and 2.5 games back of the second spot. The 15 games still to come with the Blue Jays are going to tell us a lot. And whatever happens the rest of this season, there’s going to be a lot of hope carrying over into next year.

One big reason that you can really start to get excited, if not for the next two months then for next year, is that for the first time pretty much since he’s been hired, Elias is signaling that he’s starting to see better things coming. Since the 2019 season he’s been scrupulously avoiding ever setting any expectation, saying oft-mocked things like “winning is not strategically relevant right now” and “now is not the time to flip the switch.”

That’s been shifting subtly since around when Adley Rutschman was called up. On Wednesday, even in the aftermath of having traded away Trey Mancini and Jorge López, Elias offered perhaps his most forceful statement he’s made so far that he sees results in the near-future, telling Orioles reporters:

I think it’s liftoff from here for this team. … We’ve got a program running where we bring players in, we see something we like, we give them information, we coach them up and that’s the way successful teams run themselves. … I see a homegrown team that we want to build around and supplement, and I think that’s going to start this year. There’s a lot of help coming from the minor leagues, and it’s going to start this year. And we’re just going to keep adding from this point forward.

In response to a question about whether the team would try to improve the roster over the offseason, he said, “We’re going to be signing players this winter. I’m very excited about it.” Actions speak louder than words, so we’ll have to see who they actually try to lure here and who gets signed, but again, these are words he hasn’t even been speaking – so it’s an interesting shift. He said, “This is a decade-long window that I think is opening up.” I hope he’s right.

Elias went down to Texas after the trade deadline and said that he delivered a message to a number of the team’s key players that even with the players he traded away, that “there’s a very bright future ahead of us.” He also told reporters that he even sought to supplement the major league roster in some of his deadline discussions. Sure, it’s not worth much that nothing ended up happening, but again, it feels like the ground has shifted just by the fact that Elias is talking about stuff like this. Maybe we’ll see some of that this offseason too. One way you’d know he’s serious is if he trades some prospects for a starting pitcher.

It is an off day for the Orioles today. They will have to carry this momentum back to Baltimore to face their last cupcake opponent for a little while, the Pirates this weekend. If you want to look at the out-of-town scoreboard today, root for the Astros against the Guardians and the Tigers against the Rays. If the Rays lose, the Orioles will start Friday one game back of a wild card spot.

Around the blogO’sphere

A World Series for Phillips in Baltimore? ‘Freaking awesome’ (Orioles.com)
In his first ever interview with Orioles media as an Oriole, Brett Phillips said he was looking to win a World Series with the Baltimore Orioles. I appreciate his boldness in openly sharing that ambition publicly.

Brandon Hyde: “I don’t think our guys are going to back down” (Steve Melewski)
The manager is not concerned that his players might get demoralized by Mancini and López having been traded away. Based on how they played in the Texas series, it’s hard to argue with that.

Elias takes his message on the road (Baltimore Baseball)
One of the unexpected things that Mike Elias said to the media yesterday is that he flew down to Texas personally to meet with several players and tell them that, despite this week’s trades, he sees the team on the way up.

Trade deadline grades for all 30 teams (The Athletic)
Jim Bowden gives the Orioles an A- for their trade deadline activity. There is a swath of disapproval out there, but it’s not universal.

And now some expected bad news about a couple of minor league pitchers:

Peek’s injury was known to be a forearm issue, so it’s not exactly a surprise to find out a month later that he’s needed, and has gotten, Tommy John surgery. Best of luck to both of these pitchers in making their recovery and return for 2024.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2005, the Orioles canned manager Lee Mazzilli after an eight-game losing streak and 2-16 stretch of baseball that saw them fall from a game out of first to 10.5 games back.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2021 infielder Jahmai Jones, 2007 outfielder Jon Knott, and 1996-2000/2003-05 all-around guy BJ Surhoff. Today is Surhoff’s 58th birthday, so an extra happy birthday to him.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: 13-day pope Urban VII (1521), poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792), designer Louis Vuitton (1821), jazz man Louis Armstrong (1901), 44th president Barack Obama (1961), and actress / writer Greta Gerwig (1983).

On this day in history…

In 1693, Dom Perignon is credited with having invented champagne. Perignon is recognized as a pioneer in improving sparkling wine regardless, although there is some dispute about whether he did, in fact, invent champagne.

In 1892, Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were found murdered. Borden was eventually acquitted of the crimes.

In 1914, World War I continued to escalate as Germany invaded Belgium, triggering a British (and Belgian) declaration of war against Germany.

In 1944, Anne Frank and her family were arrested by the Gestapo, their hiding spot for more than two years having been betrayed by an informer.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on August 4. Have a safe Thursday.

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