It would be perfectly reasonable to congratulate the Orioles for their showing over the first 98 games of the season.
After all, this was a team from which not much was expected, a team coming off a 95-loss season in '91.
Despite losing three out of four to Texas over the weekend, including the 6-2 setback here yesterday, the Orioles are 10 wins over .500 and still very much in the American League East race.
That's by no means good enough for manager Johnny Oates, though.
"We've been treading water for 2 1/2 months," Oates was saying yesterday. "That's not good enough.
"We win a few, then lose a couple. Since the middle of May we've been between 10 and 15 games over .500. We can't win this thing that way. What we need is a streak.
"I don't concern myself with how many games back [of Toronto] we are. Not at this point. I only worry about how many games back we are when we get right down to the end.
"Right now I only care about whether we're playing good baseball, whether we're playing the way we're capable of playing. We're not doing that often enough. We need that streak and we need it now."
Now might be a perfect time to get it. The O's next two series will be played in New York and Boston, then at Camden Yards vs. Detroit and Cleveland. They are the bottom four clubs in the AL East. Not one is playing .500 ball.
* Chris Hoiles, the Orioles' regular catcher, has been out of action for a little more than a month. It could be close to another month before he returns.
Hoiles is on the disabled list because of a broken ulnar bone in his right wrist, received when he was hit by a pitch by the Yankees' Tim Leary on June 21.
Hoiles had started to throw and he had even begun to swing a bat, but the Orioles' physician for orthopedics, Dr. Charles E. Silberstein, has ordered Hoiles to stop both.
"The bone is healing normally," Silberstein said yesterday, "but I told Chris not to do anything for a couple weeks."
After that, Hoiles will need time to regain his timing at bat before he's ready to get back in the lineup.
"[Jeff] Tackett's doing a good job in Chris' absence," says Oates.
Good thing. If he hadn't, the O's might have dropped out of contention.
* When the Orioles play an afternoon game at home, as they did the last two days, there is a byproduct of the event that is often overlooked: after the game, thousands of Camden Yards-goers spill over into the bars, restaurants and businesses of the Inner Harbor.
This past Saturday evening it seemed as if fully one-fourth of the 45,868 baseball fans stayed in the area and spent more money. Remember, there are more out-of-towners than ever attending Orioles games now. They don't seem to be in as much of a hurry to head home.
* There's a reason why the O's Glenn Davis has done his best hitting as an Oriole during the past month. He feels healthier now than he has at any time since being hurt in spring training in '91. Glenn is not, however, ready to pick up his first baseman's mitt yet.
* It was no contest when Maryland lost, 38-0, to Pennsylvania in Hershey, Pa., in the annual Big 33 high school football game Saturday night.
This was the final meeting of Maryland and Pennsylvania -- starting next year it'll be Pennsylvania vs. Ohio -- and maybe that's just as well.
The teams met annually for eight years and Maryland was fortunate to win twice (in 1987 by 26-22 and in '91 by 17-9). Pennsylvania high school football is probably too good for Maryland's. That's one explanation for the fact that Maryland has beaten Penn State only once in football -- and that was 31 years ago.
The Maryland Scholastic Football Coaches have met with the Virginia coaches and are trying to arrange a game for next year. It would be played in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Maryland and Virginia might be more evenly matched.
* There'll be a charity softball game played tonight (6:30) at Dumbarton Middle School honoring Michael Patterson, a Towson High student who has made a courageous recovery from a debilitating injury.
Patterson is the son of veteran local sportscaster Ted Patterson, of WPOC-FM. The competing teams will be the WPOC Country Hams and the WMAR-TV All-Stars. Proceeds will benefit the Towson High athletic department. For more information, call 366-1555.