Birds give the Yankees their good, better, and best efforts
by Matthew Taylor
Good, better, best – it’s always good to beat the Yankees, better to do it when it breaks an O’s losing streak and a Yanks win streak, best when it allows the teams to flip places in the standings.
The O’s started a critical home stand with a resounding 6-1 Memorial Day victory. Here are some specific elements from the game that also rank as good, better, and best.
-The O’s touching up LaTroy Hawkins for three runs in 2/3 of an inning less than a week after Hawkins went head-hunting in the Bronx. That’s much sweeter revenge than returning deliberately errant fire. When combined with Luke Scott’s late-game blast last week after Hawkins got tossed, the O’s have had the last laugh on this one.
-Nick Markakis, a linchpin to the O’s offense, swinging a good bat, going 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBIs. But that’s to be expected when he faces Darrell Rasner. Markakis came into the game batting .875 against the Yankee right-hander (7-for-8). If facing Rasner is what it takes to get Markakis on track, all the better.
-More from Markakis. His eighth outfield assist, best among AL outfielders, cut down Johnny Damon at the plate in a key sequence. As Markakis said after the game: “It always feels good to hit the ball out of the park, but it’s not all about hitting. You have to play defense, too. Good teams play good defense. That’s what I try to do.”
-Garrett Olson pitching a gem: 7.0 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 4 BB, 7 Ks.
After tossing breaking balls that the Yankees battered in the Bronx last week for six runs in three innings, Olson returned to the mound against the same team and gave a stalwart effort. The outing could well be a key moment in Olson’s development, an effort that speaks to the young southpaw’s maturity and ability to make adjustments. Spencer Fordin of MLB.com offers a good read on Olson.
Pitching must be the foundation of the O’s future. Right now, it’s what’s keeping this team from freefalling below .500 and providing reason for hope in the future.