The last time the Orioles hoisted the division title, they had just two MLBbros, Adam Jones and Delmon Young, on their American League Division Series roster.
Fast forward nine years, and the Orioles now boast three black faces in the form of Cedric Mullins, Aaron Hicks, and Jack Flaherty and after defeating the Nationals 5-1 on Wednesday night, they can clinch the AL East division for the first time since 2014 with a win on Thursday.
“I’m extremely impressed by the grit of our team, how tough they are, how we continue to battle,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
As the Orioles set their sights on the division and ultimately reaching the World Series for the first time since 1983, these three MLBbros will undoubtedly be at the forefront of their efforts. However, their success will hinge on their ability to elevate their performance when it matters most.
“The attitude for each of us is that we’re going to be the ones to [get the job done],” Mullins said. “If not us, we know we’re passing it to the next guy, and that’s how the clubhouse scene has been. Just having faith in each other and trust in each other that we’re going to get it done.”
Cedric “CM Storm” Mullins
Mullins, the defensive linchpin of the team as the center fielder and a seasoned veteran who has battled through injuries, faces a pressing challenge. He has struggled at the plate recently, managing just one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Mullins’s defensive prowess will remain crucial, but his offensive contributions will be vital in propelling the Orioles deep into the playoffs.
“He’s a top-tier center fielder, one of the best in the league,” right-hander Kyle Bradish said. “Whenever he’s out there, the ball goes up, you think he’s going to get there.”
“Black” Jack Flaherty
Flaherty, acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline, has had a rough transition to the Orioles. With a 1-3 record and a 6.68 ERA over eight games (including seven starts) and 33 and two-thirds innings pitched, Flaherty is determined to find his groove. The opposition has hit .308 against him during this span. Baltimore is counting on Flaherty’s talent to shine through as he adapts to his new surroundings and steps up in critical postseason moments.
“It’s been a lot of, ‘Do what you do,’ and, ‘Pitch the way you know how to pitch, and things will go well,’” Flaherty said of the message he’s received in Baltimore. “So that’s a good feeling to have when things kind of haven’t worked out.”
Aaron “The Avenger” Hicks
Hicks, who found himself cut loose by the Yankees earlier this season, has experienced a resurgence since returning from the injured list. In September, he boasts an impressive .351 batting average with 11 RBIs. However, he must maintain his productivity when the playoff spotlight shines brightest in October.
“We don’t have a ton of older veteran presence in our lineup, and so I was hoping that he could come here and just maybe play easy and play like he has nothing to lose, and he did that,” Hyde said.
The Orioles’ resurgence is a testament to their rebuilding efforts, especially their potent farm system that built a team capable of making a deep playoff run. But for Mullins, Hicks, and Flaherty, the limelight may shine brighter with a fanbase yearning for representation of the area to succeed.
Only one of Charm City’s top 30 prospects, Enrique Bradfield Jr., is an MLBbro. This makes it imperative for the trio to showcase their abilities on the postseason stage. In doing so, they not only contribute to their playoff aspirations but also ensure that the pipeline of talent continues to grow in marginalized communities and the culturally rich city of Baltimore.