That look of triumph. Pedro Strop has done something right, and with that jubilation, ol’ Petey has helped complete the jewel of my Orioles collection. He’s the final member of the 2012 Playoff Roster I needed, and all it took was trading Josh Stinson, Freddy Garcia and Chris Snider to Ryan over at The Great Orioles Autograph Project and Pedro was here at last (along with another Ryan Flaherty and a Jason Berken we’ll discuss later).
Originally signed by the Rockies as a sixteen-year-old shortstop, Pedro spent three years in the Rockies system before a trade to Texas eventually led him to the majors, where he debuted on August 28, 2009 with a strikeout of Joe Mauer. Ineffective in parts of 2008 and 2009, Pedro arrived in Baltimore in mid-2011, completing a trade with Texas for Mike Gonzalez, who had a 4.18 ERA and 2 saves in 78 games after being brought to Baltimore as a closer (notoriously blowing two saves in his first three appearances covering the first four games of 2010). Gonzalez was good for seven innings and a 5.14 ERA for the Rangers, while Pedro dazzled in Baltimore, pitching to a 0.73 ERA in 12 games, picking up two wins and striking out 12 in 12.1 innings.
Hat cocked slightly to the side, large necklace looped around his neck, Pedro was electric for the Birds in 2012, with a sparkling 5-2 record and a 2.44 ERA in 70 appearances. While his command occasionally suffered (37 walks in 66.1 innings), he held opponents to a .217 batting average and served as the bridge to Jim Johnson until late summer.
Pedro made at least 10 appearances in each month of the season, and after a 2.08 ERA with 3 wins and a loss in April, he held ERA marks of 0.66, 0.96 and 1.64 in May, June and July. He entered August with a 1.31 ERA was struggled to end 2012, where a 4.09 ERA in August and ghastly 6.48 mark in September were balanced out by a Birds club that caught fire around him. Despite Pedro’s August and September struggles, the Orioles won all twelve games he appeared in that August and for while Pedro was credited with seven blown saves, the Orioles actually came back to win six of those contests and went 53-17 in his appearances overall.
Against the AL East, Strop pitched a 1.00 ERA against the Red Sox and a 0 mark against Toronto in seven games each. Against the Rays, Strop made 10 appearances and allowed only one run in 8.1 innings for a 1.08 mark. However, the Yankees were a different story altogether, where the Bronx Bombers intimidated Strop to a 6.35 ERA and four runs in only 5.2 innings.
Five days after blowing a lead in what would ultimately be a 4-3 Yankees victory, it was Pedro who was on the mound on September 6, where entering the game in the 8th inning with two outs, Alex Rodriguez on second, Eric Chavez on first and a 6-2 Orioles lead, a single, a passed ball, consecutive walks (one with the bases loaded) and an Ichiro Suzuki single allowed the Yankees to tie the game before Pedro could get the single necessary out. Darren O’Day came in to get a Derek Jeter flyout before the Orioles needed all of three pitches to regain the lead on an Adam Jones home run, which was followed by a Matt Wieters single, Mark Reynolds’ second home run of the evening and Chris Davis’ 24th bomb of 2012 as the Birds took a 10-6 win on Cal Ripken Jr. Statue Night.
In Game Four of the 2012 ALDS, Pedro was faced with his chance at redemption against New York, in Yankee Stadium no less. A night after the Orioles lost a heartbreaker in 12 innings, they played extras again, facing elimination in a 1-1 game. Pedro pitched the bottom of the 11th and 12th innings, retiring Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin in order before retiring Ichiro Suzuki after a two-out Derek Jeter single. In the 13th, Manny Machado doubled and was moved to third on a Nate McLouth groundout and JJ Hardy then drove in Machado to give the Orioles a lead they wouldn’t surrender and the Orioles final win of 2012 was awarded to Strop.
Pedro continued his winning ways in the offseason, performing as one of the relief anchors of the undefeated Dominican Republican team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, picking up three wins and getting the better of Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Giancarlo Stanton while not walking a batter in his 6 2/3 innings
Unfortunately, back in Baltimore, Pedro had a disastrous start to 2013 (7.25 ERA in 29 games, 15 walks against 24 strikeouts), Pedro was traded (along with Jake Arrieta) to the Chicago Cubs in the deal that brought Scott Feldman to Baltimore. In the National League, Pedro saw action in 37 games for the Cubs, compiling a 2.83 ERA, slicing his walks per nine-inning ratio in half (from 6.0 to 2.8) and pitching to a career-high (not counting his 7-inning 2009) 10.8 strikeouts/9 inning ratio.
Depending on how picky we’ll be, my Orioles 2012 Playoff Roster Autographed Card collection started either on April 11, 2011 (Jim Thome’s autograph, when he was playing for the Twins at Camden) or in August 2012 (when I wrote to my favorite ‘12 Bird, Mark Reynolds, right before his late-season Yankees demolishing hot streak, and recieved a signed card within a week). The entire 2013 season has passed in that time, and as frustrating as 2013’s occasional “Refuse to Win” Birds struggled to get hot and stay there, if nothing else, the year’s given me some distance to appreciate that special team - emerging stars, patchwork starters and a lights-out bullpen that brought winning back to Charm City and excelled in extras and thrived in close games. The Orioles have a great future ahead of them, but even if there’s a World Series trophy in 2014, I won’t dislodge the 2012 boys from my baseball heart anytime soon, if ever.
Oriole home runs won’t be landing in Pedro’s hat anytime soon, but we’ll always have our .gifs.
Pedro Strop is pictured on his 2012 Topps Update Series card.
2012 ORIOLES PROGRESS: 35 OF 53
2012 PLAYOFF ROSTER: 29 OF 29 - ROSTER COMPLETE