The Orioles began their current six-game road trip with many believing it would tell us a lot about what we need to know about the 2012 Birds. Baltimore's early-season success could be discounted by a favorable schedule early on, but road series in New York and Boston would be better indicators of the Orioles' staying power.
And then the Orioles took two of three in the Bronx, shutting the Yankees bats down to three combined runs.
Now they go to Fenway, where they took three of four in their last trip, a precursor to their final-weekend demolishing of the Red Sox's postseason hopes at Camden Yards. The Orioles won four of their last six games against the Red Sox over the final nine days of the season, playing a large role in Boston's September collapse, in which the Red Sox held a nine-game wild-card lead in the season's final month but missed the playoffs.
The Orioles can also win their fourth consecutive series, something they never did last season -- the closest they came was finishing the year having won four of five series in September.
We saw how much the opening games of these series are tone-setters. Even though Jason Hammel dropped a 2-1 decision to the Yankees on Monday, his pitching performance against a dangerous lineup was key to setting the tone for Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta after him.
Tonight's series opener against the Red Sox will be no different, espectially with rookie left-hander Wei-Yin Chen making his first start at Fenway against consummate Orioles-killer Jon Lester. If the Orioles can get to Lester, who is 14-0 with a 2.36 ERA against the Orioles over his career, it would go a long way.
The Orioles have won just two games of Lester's 18 career starts against them, but one of those wins came Sept. 28, when the Orioles beat the Red Sox in a regular-season finale Boston fans surely haven't forgotten.
But this series is about 2012, not 2011, and -- interestingly enough -- it's the Orioles who are trumpeting that claim.