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And Now A Return to Reasonable Sleep Habits: O's Go 6-4 on West Coast

The Orioles just concluded a ten-game post-All Star Game swing through three tough American League West cities, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle. They finished the trip 6-4 which is more than most fans – even those dubbed Negatively Passionate like yours truly – could have hoped for.

I stayed up for the action until the wee hours of the morning and was rewarded with victories more often than not. Shades of the 2012 re-emergence of Baltimore as a pennant contender – winning the close ones even if they go into extra innings.

The Birds now return to Camden Yards to face two of those tough teams the Angels and Mariners this coming week (after a deserved Monday off). Now if I were indeed Negatively Passionate, I would carp that the Birds should have been 9-1 on the trip. They lost the first game in Oakland when closer Zach Britton couldn’t hold a two-run lead in the bottom of the 9th.

A sweep in Anaheim was prevented when in the bottom of the 8th the bullpen walked three in a row, including one intentionally, and turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 loss.

OK OK, they probably didn’t deserve the win on Saturday afternoon in Seattle but when infrequently used reserve outfielder David Lough got picked off first base to end the one-run game. But the best thing about the Birds under Buck Showalter is that they do leave yesterday’s game at the park and keep their focus on the next game.

Early returns from post-All Star Game action indicate that the AL East will be tougher in the second half of the season – or more accurately the final third of the season – than they were in the first months of 2014.

The Yankees finished a home stand winning seven out of the ten at Yankee Stadium where they hadn’t played well all year. But to lose the last two to the divisional rivals Toronto Blue Jays took some of the glow away from the first seven wins.

The Blue Jays are trying to cope with major injuries, most notably to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion who has provided a big one-two power punch with Jose Bautista. Edwin may be out until late in the season as will the passionate but injury-prone infielder Brett Lawrie and veteran first baseman-dh Adam Lind.

Yet the Jays have to feel better after finally beating the Yankees two in a row at Yankee Stadium where they had lost 18 in a row. Their belated success proved the wise baseball adage – “Play enough close games and sooner or later the tide will turn your way.”

Fasten your seat belts, fans. The dog days have barely begun and the races are heating up day by day.

One reform I would like to see before next season is for umpires to cut down on allowing batters to roam around the batter’s box in between pitches. It is just not necessary and it ruins the pace of the game.

It is bad enough that replay watching stretches out games. But the batter’s stroll is something that could be curbed. Some college leagues have now implemented a clock requiring no more than a 12-15 second maximum between pitches when no runners are on base. MLB should definitely consider it in discussions with MLBPA.

That’s all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it!
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