Kevin Cowherd: Let's not spoil Orioles' fun by looking ahead to tough stretch

Kevin Cowherd: Let's not spoil Orioles' fun by looking ahead to tough stretch
Wilson Betemit is mobbed by his Orioles teammates after his walk-off homer gave them a 5-2 win over the A's. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna)

Just another day at

Camden Yards

, right? Another ho-hum, garden-variety 5-2 win Sunday, this time over the

Oakland Athletics

? OK, maybe not.

Say what you will about this team and where it'll end up at season's end. But right now, you can't deny this: The


sure have been fun to watch.


"It was fun there in the ninth inning," manager

Buck Showalter

said in his typically understated way.

Fun in the ninth? Yeah, kind of.


Let's play it back: With one out,

Matt Wieters

doubles off A's closer

Grant Balfour

, a shot to the base of the left-field wall to tie the game at 2. Two batters later,

Wilson Betemit

smacks a walk-off homer.

Then Betemit tosses his helmet high in the air on his home run trot and jumps into the obligatory scrum of teammates waiting for him at the plate, getting his celebratory beat-down with most of the crowd of an announced 31,793 still in the house and on its feet, roaring.

Just another win? Hardly.

That's as much fun as it gets for this team, which went 5-1 on this homestand to push its record to 14-8 and hold on to — I know it's early, but this is fun to write — first place in the American League East.

Of course, now we're about to find out just how good the Orioles are.

Looked at the schedule lately? I say that because the Orioles have an absolutely brutal stretch of games coming up.

It starts with three against the

New York Yankees

beginning Monday night in the Bronx. That's followed by three against the

Boston Red Sox

at Fenway Park.

Pivotal road trip, Buck?

Or is it too early in the season to start using that word?

"I do think it's too early to feel that way," Showalter said before Sunday's tidy two-hour, 31-minute game. "But anytime you're playing teams in your division, you want to play well, especially in their park."

And the schedule doesn't get much better from there. Because after Boston, the Orioles return home for nine days to play the

Texas Rangers


Tampa Bay Rays

and Yankees again.

But that's a worry for another day. And the Orioles weren't about to dwell on it Sunday, not after their most inspiring win of this young season.

Against the A's, they ripped a page out of

's old handbook, winning with pitching, defense and Betemit's three-run homer.


Tommy Hunter

wasn't great, but he went seven innings, scattered seven hits and kept the Orioles in the game.

What was great was the Orioles' defense.

Mark Reynolds, making his first start at first base, looked like a Gold Glover when he stabbed a sharp grounder off the bat of

Kila Ka'aihue

in the fourth inning to start a 3-6-3 double-play from his knees. One batter later, right fielder

Nick Markakis

gunned down

Seth Smith

trying to stretch a single into a double.

In the fifth,

Nolan Reimold

reached over the left-field wall to take a homer away from A's catcher

Kurt Suzuki

. And to make the catch, Reimold had to fight off an adult fan with a glove the size of a frying pan.

(Dude, you're a grown man. Leave the glove at home next time. Let the kids catch the home run balls.)

And one batter after that,

Adam Jones

made a nice, diving catch in center field to rob

Eric Sogard

of a hit.

"I thought we played a real good defensive game, which is probably the difference in us being in that game," Showalter said.

It probably was, what with portly A's starter

Bartolo Colon

pitching a shutout into the ninth inning.

(How old is this guy now, 56? OK, he's really only 38. But it feels like he has been pitching since the dawn of the space age.)

Anyway, early in the season or not, that was a big win for the Orioles on Sunday.

Will it carry over on this next road trip, to the big series that starts Monday night at

Yankee Stadium

? Showalter shrugged.

"We had a good game today,"' he said. "Everybody feels good. We'll have a good train ride to New York. I take some pleasure in seeing them feel good about themselves. But they're mature enough to know we have a challenge ahead of us and how long the season is.

"But I've been real proud of them. Ever since the first day they got down to camp, there's been a real good karma about them."

Is that a quote for the ages or what?

When an old-school manager like Showalter starts talking about good karma, you know the team's having fun.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."