One-run wins had eluded the O’s all season long — one of the main reasons they failed to make the postseason.
The Orioles finished 2013 with a record of 20-31 in one-run contests. A significant drop off to their 2012 record of 29-9 — a major league best.
Though the final standings will show the Orioles once again finishing behind the Red Sox and the New York Yankees, the O’s finished with a record of 85-77, fourth in the East because of their head-to-head record against the Yanks. They now have consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97.
It wasn’t just the Yankees that the Orioles struggled to win against in the East and that’s another reason they are watching the postseason at home, as opposed to playing in it.
Against the AL East the Orioles were 36-40; the Red Sox were the only division foe they had a winning record against (10-9).
This year wasn’t all bad news for the O’s, however. Defensively the 2013 Orioles were one of the best . . . ever.
On Sept. 15 the Orioles finished their 113th game without an error. That tied the 2008 Houston Astros for most in a season since 1900. The O’s would add another six errorless games, bringing their total to 119 — and committing just 54 errors all season long.
The 2012 Birds had three Gold Glove winners; this year’s team will certainly have multiple winners as well.
What the talk of the Orioles season was going to be was quite obvious as the calendar turned from April to May.
First baseman Chris Davis started white hot for the O’s. He earned AL Player of the Month honors after batting .348 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs in April. He was the first Oriole to win the award since Melvin Mora in Aug. 2008.
Davis continued to slug all season long, leading the majors in home runs (53) and RBIs (138). Those 53 homers set a new Orioles franchise record, breaking Brady Anderson’s record of 50 in 1996.
The Orioles also saw the return of second baseman Brian Roberts. Another injury, after the last few years were plagued with them, early in the season made the Orioles question whether Roberts was suitable for their roster.
Roberts returned to play in 77 games for the O’s. He batted .249 with eight homers and 39 RBIs for the season. In 301 chances, Roberts committed a single error and became a regular everyday player with no signs of lingering health concerns.
It’s hard to say what 2014 will hold for the Birds.
The Orioles will have to address their second base situation. They could choose to re-sign the 35-year-old Roberts, go with the 21-year-old Jonathan Schoop, or seek help from outside the organization.
Also, the Orioles could have Dylan Bundy, ESPN’s Keith Law’s No. 3 top prospect, in their rotation. However, Bundy will be coming off a missed season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in June.
Of course after suffering a torn ligament in his knee last week, the O’s will also have to monitor Manny Machado to make sure he is 100 percent before returning to the hot corner.
After finally making the postseason for the first time in 15 years last season, the Orioles missed out this year, basically because of missed opportunities and the inability to win divisional matchups.
The O’s will have to work out contracts with some key players in Davis, Machado, Matt Wieters, Jim Johnson, among others.
It’ll be vital for the O’s to lock up their core for multi-year deals so the franchise can once again become a consistent contender in arguably baseball’s toughest division.
The 2014 season will be the Orioles’ 60th season in Baltimore. A third consecutive winning season and the emergence of a relatively young group of players — possibly younger than this year depending on Bundy and Schoop making the roster — could once again put Charm City back on the baseball map.