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Some People Come And Go, But Friends From Southwest Virginia? They Stay.
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Ain't the beer cold?
Look, anytime you sweep the Red Sox in Fenway, there's cause for celebration. I'm well aware that the season is 1.8 percent of the way finished and that there's a long way to go, but let me enjoy this.
Through three games, the Orioles are good. Damn good, actually.
O's fans saw it all in the team's opening series — solid starting pitching, a reliable bullpen and a lineup full of young sluggers. Baltimore used a combination of all three to bludgeon the Red Sox this past weekend.
The Means Justify The Ends
John Means earned his 2019 All-Star appearance and even threw his hat in the ring for Rookie of the Year. The following season was as rocky as it gets, thanks to COVID-19 and injuries.
But if Means' Opening Day start is any inclination of what Orioles fans are going to see in 2021, Means just might be returning to the Midsummer Classic.
The 27-year-old lefty stymied the Red Sox over seven shutout innings of one-hit ball. He only struck out five, but Means pitched about as well as one could ask.
Brandon Hyde is likely going to have to turn to a lot of different starters this season before all is said and done. But if he can count on Means every fifth day, it'll stabilize what could be a potentially shaky pitching staff.
The Bullpen Is Legit
It's tough to draw serious conclusions from three games, but I'm ready to make this claim — the bullpen will not be the reason the Orioles are bad this season.
If they can fade injury, Baltimore has some serious talent in the backend.
Cesar Valdez is the grizzly vet who can't throw any faster than 85 mph. Good thing that doesn't matter, as the changeup artist picked up right where he left off in 2020 with consecutive saves to start the year. Valdez retired the side in order on Opening Day and worked himself out of a jam on Saturday.
Tanner Scott is still the most talented pitcher in the 'pen. He threw a scoreless inning on Friday and struck out two while doing so.
Recent addition Adam Plutko gave the Orioles 2.1 scoreless innings on Saturday after Matt Harvey exited in the fifth inning. Plutko may eventually find himself in the rotation, but he's the perfect long reliever right now. He just needs to eat innings.
We still haven't seen a few of the Orioles' relievers. Paul Fry, Cole Sulser, Tyler Wells, Wade LeBlanc and Mac Sceroler all went through the Boston series without an appearance. There's a good chance we'll see them in the upcoming series against the Yankees.
But the early returns are solid. Hopefully, Hyde can avoid using Valdez on back-to-back days again.
Cedric Is Entertaining Already
Of all the young O's, Cedric Mullins wasn't the guy I would've pegged to start off the season that hot. Let me read you Mullins' stats from each of the Orioles' first three games...
Somebody ate their Wheaties in the offseason.
Mullins has quite the opportunity this year. In a crowded outfield at both the major league and minor league levels, Mullins is getting first crack at cementing himself as the Orioles' everyday center fielder.
He's taken advantage of it thus far.
Mullins' decision to abandon being a switch-hitter is paying off. He looks infinitely more comfortable at the plate hitting from the left side, whether it be against righties or lefties.
Here's to hoping that comfortability keeps him going all season.