Courtesy of Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Orioles' road trip a success

Jul 22, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Zach Britton (right) celebrates with catcher Caleb Joseph (left) after the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The post-All-Star break road trip all Orioles fans were dreading turned out to be pretty positive. Ordinarily, the Orioles on the west coast is a recipe for disaster, but Baltimore managed to go 6-4 for the trip, and 5-2 for the week, on the back of excellent starting pitching.

Oddly enough, the Orioles managed to lose ground in the AL East on the road trip. They had a four-game lead at the All-Star break over the New York Yankees, and now have a three-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, a four-game lead over the New York Yankees, and a seven-and-a-half-game lead over the resurgent Tampa Bay Rays.

Despite a shrinking lead, the Orioles really couldn’t have expected  too much more out of the road trip and should be happy the divisional situation isn’t worst.

Their hitting was non-existent for a majority of the road trip and it was only because of their starting pitching and bullpen performances that they are still in first place.

Since coming back from the All-Star break, the Orioles have batted a combined .196, good for dead last in the AL.

Steve Pearce and Nelson Cruz cooled off, Chris Davis continued to struggle, Manny Machado’s hot hitting was interrupted by a three-game injury hiatus, forcing Ryan Flaherty’s cold bat into the lineup.

Their pitching, however, saved the day. Specifically, Wei-Yin Chen (11-3, 3.92), Miguel Gonzalez (5-5, 3.91) and Chris Tillman (7-5, 3.92).

It is a theme that has become prevalent in the 2014 season. Hitting disappears, pitching shows up.

It is also this theme that brought the Orioles’ 2012 playoff run to an end in New York during the ALDS.

The Orioles’ pitchers carried the team on their backs (with the exception of then-closer, Jim Johnson), but it wasn’t enough.

If the Orioles want to make a prolonged playoff push in 2014, they really need to fix the inconsistencies in their lineup. Whether it’s through adjusting the order, adding a player via-trade, or just taking extra reps in the cages, Orioles’ brass can’t cross their fingers and hope the hitters aren’t cold come October.

As for right now, things are going right for Baltimore despite some glaring offensive issues.

Offensive player of the week: Delmon Young. With just two games played over the week, Young made his limited playing time count. Going four-for-eight with a home run, a double, and three RBIs, Young provided an  important spark for the Orioles’ lineup. It will be interesting to see how his playing time changes now that Pearce’s bat has cooled.

Pitcher of the week: Miguel Gonzalez went 1-0 for the week in his two starts. He combined to pitch 13.2 innings, allowing just three runs. He went from being potentially the odd-man out with the trade-deadline approaching, to being one of the hottest pitchers in the league. He now has pitched four consecutive quality starts.

Coming up: The Orioles will get a much needed day off after a long flight back to Baltimore, and will resume play on Tuesday against the Anaheim Angels (Tuesday through Thursday) and then again against the Seattle Mariners (Friday through Sunday).

A feeling of déjà vu, the Orioles again will face off against AL West teams before hitting the road again.

Probable pitcher:

Tuesday (7 P.M. ET): Jered Weaver (11-6, 3.36) Vs. Chris Tillman (7-5, 3.92)

Wednesday (7 P.M. ET): Garrett Richards (11-3, 2.62) Vs. Kevin Gausman (4-3, 3.67)

Thursday (7 P.M. ET): Tyler Skaggs (5-5, 4.49) Vs. Bud Norris (8-7, 3.94)

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