The Orioles celebrate taking three out of four from the Red Sox… (Algerina Perna, Baltimore…)
This is how good the Orioles are going now: even Jon Lester can't stop them anymore.
You remember Lester, of course.
The Boston Red Sox lefty used to be the Orioles' personal Grim Reaper. All that was missing was the cloak with the hood and the scythe. Lester was where base hits went to die, where batting averages withered like dried husks, where all hope vanished if you wore the orange and black.
But not anymore. The Orioles' 6-3 win over the Red Sox at a packed Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon proved that. Lester had been 14-0 against the Orioles until late last September; the Orioles have now cuffed him around twice in a row.
Fact is, they're treating Lester the way they treat a lot of pitchers now, which is to say, rudely. And they're treating the Red Sox, who used to own them in past seasons, the same way.
The numbers don't lie. Sunday's win pulled the Orioles to within a game and half of Boston at the top of the American League East standings. They're 5-2 against the Red Sox this season and have won 14 of the past 19 games between the teams and 24 of the past 34.
You don't think that's a big deal? Oh, it sure is.
Red Sox mystique? That's all but gone with these Orioles. And while Buck Showalter, Mr. Killjoy himself, tried to downplay the significance of taking three of four games from Boston, his players didn't all subscribe to that line of thinking.
"Yes," it's significant, Chris Davis said. "Just to get on a roll. Anytime we can rattle off some wins against a division opponent, it's always a good thing."
The Orioles did so many things right Sunday it was positively scary to watch if you're one of the other AL East teams with designs on going to the playoffs this season.
Let's see, where to begin?
Well, there was Davis, the big first baseman who continued his ridiculously great start, going 2-for-4 with a double and another (yawn) Ruthian home run in the Orioles' three-run third inning.
The two-run shot, Davis' 23rd of the season and 100th of his career, was a towering blast off a Lester cutter that didn't, well, cut. The ball seemed to hang in the air forever and touch the clouds before landing like a parachute in the right-field stands.
"It's hard to hit a ball that high and have it go that far," Showalter said. "Your teammates kind of go: 'Wow, that's pretty cool.' It's hard to impress guys up here."
But with the way he's launching the ball, Davis is impressing everyone in baseball, not just the Orioles. So is the game's new Golden Boy, Manny Machado, who went 2-for-4 and hit his 32nd double of the season. He's now on pace to finish with an other-worldly 73 of them, which would shatter the record of 67 set by Boston's Earl Webb in 1931.
And we haven't even mentioned Nick Markakis, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three runs and made two outstanding catches while continuing to play right field like he invented the position.
Or starter Miguel Gonzalez, who pitched six solid innings on Father's Day, with his wife, Lucia, expecting their first child at any moment.
"[We] had the trainers go and talk to him to see if there was an update on the, uh, movement," Showalter said of the impending birth after the game. "There's not."
(Speaking of fathers, how about Richard Gere throwing out the ceremonial first pitch with a "Dad 1" Orioles jersey? Oh, yeah? Who voted him top dad around here? The guy hadn't even been to Camden Yards before.)
But it was that kind of day at the Yards for the Orioles, who now left on a high note for a six-game road trip to Detroit and Toronto.
Before the clubhouse cleared Sunday, a reporter asked Davis if taking three of four from the Red Sox was a statement from the Orioles that it was game-on in the AL East.
For the first time in his postgame remarks, Davis betrayed the hint of a smile.
"I think even before the season started, the way we played last year and the way we competed and obviously made the playoff run, I think it was kind of a wake-up call [for the rest of the division] and a point of emphasis for us that we're here to win," he said.
No one who saw them take apart the Red Sox could doubt that.
Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."