HR’s from Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones and Aubrey Huff paced the Orioles to a 7-2 win over Toronto last night, helping rookie starter Jason Berken earn a victory in his big league debut. If closing to within 7 games of first place Boston in the AL East strikes you as no-big-thing, you’re not alone, as the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck is far more consumed with Tuesday’s announcement catching starlet Matt Wieters is being promoted from Norfolk.
Orioles fans have been waiting to hear this since Wieters became one of the most prized draft picks in club history in 2007. The waiting for Wieters became almost unbearable as he tore through two levels of the minor league system last year and batted .333 in the Grapefruit League this spring. The clock began ticking louder when he bounced back from an April hamstring injury and started to heat up at the plate at Triple-A Norfolk during the past couple of weeks.
He is the embodiment of the new era that Orioles fans have been awaiting for more than a decade. He is the jewel of a rebuilding plan that has gathered steam with a series of recent roster moves, including the one that put Triple-A Norfolk call-up Jason Berken on the mound to deliver a scrappy five-inning performance against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
The changeover has been swift — so swift that it’s getting to the point where you can’t tell the players without a Norfolk program. Brad Bergesen was called up in April to replace Alfredo Simon. Nolan Reimold came up two weeks ago and took over most of the playing time in left field. Rich Hill came off the disabled list 11 days ago to deliver a pair of solid starts against the Kansas City Royals and Washington Nationals. Berken wasn’t even through his third inning when MacPhail made the Wieters announcement and hinted that another Triple-A pitcher could be headed here to make Thursday night’s start.
Who knows how this group of unproven young players will perform the rest of the way, but one thing is certain. The 2009 season, which seemed so hopeless a few days ago, suddenly is relevant again. Every remaining game has an extra layer of meaning. The future will be right here in front of your eyes, and there is more to come.