The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox today, before a packed house of Orioles’ orange, 6-3. Michael Gonzalez was great and the bullpen came in and slammed the door shut. All in all it was just another day in Baltimore as sights like this have become almost too common. The starting pitching is fine, but flawed, the offense does its job (Manny Machado hits a double, Adam Jones hits an RBI and Chris Davis hits a homer), and the bullpen stymies the competition yet again. It has become such a standard script that it is almost boring to cover.
It is hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago I was mustering the courage and ire to write about a team ten games under .500 as opposed to today. This evening Baltimore will sit down to dinner with their team 10 games over 500.
The thing that makes this Orioles team so dangerous is that they very quietly got to 10 games over. They didn’t get there with a massive win streak. They haven’t gotten there through a remarkable one-run victory record or extra inning heroics. They got there methodically, slowly, steadily. They have yet to win more than four games in a row; they have yet to sweep a team in a three or four game series. They had to survive a six game losing streak and their starting pitching is suspect at best, yet here they are overcoming all of that and they sit in a very advantageous position thus far into the season.
This evening the Orioles remain 1.5 games out of first place. The Red Sox are showing cracks in their façade, the Yankees are fading, and the Rays still can’t seem to find any real consistency. The Orioles, however continue to follow the script I mentioned above and are making it look easy. Moreover they only seem to be getting better.
The biggest area the Orioles need to improve on has been their pitching, that has improved and hopefully will continue. Between May and so far in June the Orioles’ starters’ ERA has fallen from 5.08 to 4.46. That still isn’t great, but it is a significant improvement. The Orioles’ starters still need to go deeper into games, and give up fewer homers. Right now the Orioles staff is on a pace to challenge the all time record for most homers allowed in a season.
The only silver lining in that cloud is that nearly two thirds of the homers given up by Orioles pitchers this year have been solo homers. And in high leverage situations the Orioles staff has pitched to a very respectable .246/.310/.393/.702 line.
Despite the pitching woes the Orioles are very much in the thick of the race and seem to be well in control of their own destiny right now. The pitching problems seem to be more niggling concerns than season-shattering worries. The team seems locked-in, extremely confident, and unfazed by their success. It is a really good time to be an O’s fan right now.
Sundries and leftovers:
-One more thing about the Orioles’ homer problem. The homers the Orioles are giving up seem to be the biggest drain on all their pitching stats. The Orioles are much stingier when it comes to doubles and triples.
– You don’t hear too many Orioles fans crying for Mark Reynolds any more as he has gone into one of his more terrible slumps. Over the last 28 days he is batting .186/.255/.256/.511 with only two homers and a mind numbing 33 strike outs.
– Mark Teixeria has left the Yankees again with more wrist inflammation. Tex came back to the Yanks with a vengeance but has since cooled off in a big way. The same could be said for Vernon Wells, but saying he “cooled off” would be the understatement of the summer. Wells’ OPS in April was .911, in May it was .615 now with 46 AB in June it is sitting at .236. That is unbelievable.
-David Ortiz has been the target of many Orioles tweets over the weekend because of the long admiring gaze he gave his homer on Thursday night. I hear he is still telling his teammates about it.
-Kevin Gausman should be back up with the team soon enough. He has struggled, but I don’t think there is really he can learn in AAA. He needs to learn how to put major leaguers away, and you can only really do that against major league competition.
-Jake Arrieta will get a spot start tomorrow. I foresee him getting shifted into the pen and Pedro Strop DFA’d. Zach Britton is also knocking on the door, with he and Chen ready to make a return Freddy Garcia’s days could be numbered as an Oriole.
-My God the Miami Marlins are bad.
-Really happy to see the Pirates doing so well. I’m not going to lie; the idea of a Baltimore/Pittsburgh World Series is a fantasy worth having in June. This town would explode.