Stronger Pitching Has Helped Orioles Win 4 of 7 Against the Usually-Dominant Oakland Athletics


The Oakland Athletics have dominated the Orioles since 2001 and have been the Birds’ toughest opponent as the A’s have won 68 of the 98 contests over the last 10+ seasons, which equates to a .306 winning percentage for the Birds.

The Athletics are known for their tremendous pitching staff, which their team is built around; even though they haven’t blown the Orioles out of the water in many contests, the A’s pitchers have dictated and controlled most of these games with clutch hitting and strong pitching.

Out of all of the American League teams, the Athletics have proven to be the most difficult for the Birds to compete against.  We all know the Orioles’ pitching staffs over the last ten years have been horrendous, and although some years their offense performed well, their pitching was that much worse.

Over the last 10+ seasons against the Athletics, the Orioles’ pitching staff has surrendered 492 total runs (5.02 runs per game), while their offense has produced only 340 runs in 98 games (3.47 runs per game); the A’s have outscored the Orioles by 152 runs.  The Orioles have won only won 26 games since 2000, 13 in Oakland and 13 at home (30 losses at home, 32 at the Coliseum).

The Birds have only won 28% of the series they’ve played against the A’s as they won only nine of the 32 series between the two clubs; they’ve dropped 21 and tied two two-game shortened series.  Oakland’s swept the Birds nine times and the O’s have returned the favor on five occasions.

The Birds have never had a winning season against them- the closest they’ve reached to a winning season was back in 2007 when they split their eight games.   The Birds also were winless two years and lost seven or more games in five different years.

Over the last six + seasons, the Birds have a .333 winning percentage against the A’s as they’ve collected 14 wins in 42 games.  The Orioles next lowest winning percentage over that same time is the Yankees at .337 (34-67) and in the Western Division, their next lowest winning percentage is against the Angels at .396 (19-29).

So, you may be thinking to yourself how the Birds always seem to manage to fall apart and always struggle against the Athletics, who have had some very impressive seasons (102-60 in 2001 and 103-59 in 2002), and some forgettable seasons (75-86 in 2007 and 2008)- the answer has been a combination of Orioles’ pitching struggles and Oakland’s pitching domination.

2006, 2-4

Orioles’ pitchers tossed 52 innings against the Athletics over six games, and they allowed 28 earned runs (33 overall) while surrendering 26 walks and delivering 46 strike outs.  Birds’ hurlers sported a 4.85 ERA and opponents hit .255 off of Baltimore’s pitchers.

Against Oakland’s deep pitching staff, Baltimore scored the least amount of runs in the league against the A’s (21 runs, 3.5 per game), and hit at a .253 clip as they collected only 50 hits in those 6 contests (6.66 per game).  Not only did they struggle to pick up base hits, they lacked power as they only smashed two homeruns all season against the A’s.

2007, 4-4

This season was the Orioles best season against the Athletics over the last ten years as they split the eight game series.  The Birds’ sported the second-lowest ERA against the A’s all season at 2.92.  Over 71 innings pitched, Orioles’ hurlers 26 earned runs (3.25 per game) and a .250 opponent batting average, but still could only muster four wins.

As for their offense, the Birds crossed the plate 36 times while collecting 67 base hits (8.4 hits per game) in 268 at-bats, which equates to a .250 batting average.  Unlike the season before, they provided more power as they smashed seven homeruns.

2008, 0-5

After a modest 4-4 record against the A’s in 2007, the next season was a drastic reversal of fortune.  The Birds lost all five games between these two teams in 2008, and the Orioles’ pitching was mainly to blame.

In only 45.1 innings pitched, Birds’ hurlers allowed 26 earned runs in just five contests (5.16 ERA); not only did they struggle in the run department, Orioles’ pitchers surrendered three more walks than strike outs (27 walks, 24 strike outs).

Not only did the Birds’ pitching staff struggle, but so did their offense; they collected only 33 base hits (6.6 per game) and they only managed to cross the plate 11 times (2.2 runs per game)- it’s hard for any team to string together a couple of wins when your team scores just two runs per game.

2009, 1-5

If you thought the previous season was ugly, the 2009 season against the Athletics proved to be an even worse season by the numbers.  The Orioles’ pitching staff sported a 6.53 ERA (second-lowest among Oakland opponents to Kansas City- 6.88).   In 51 innings, the Birds gave up 37 earned runs and opponents batted at a very high .296 clip.

Again, as the Orioles’ pitching staff falters, so does their offense; the Birds were only able to record 12 runs in six games (two per game) against the A’s masterful pitching staff.  The Orioles collected 46 total hits (7.66 per game), but managed to hit only .230 against the Athletics.

2010, 3-7

For the second straight season, the Orioles’ pitching staff has the worst numbers against the Athletics.  The Birds’ ERA against the A’s in 2010 was 4.53 over 87.1 innings as they allowed 44 earned runs while striking out 60 and walking just 28.

As for the Birds’ offense, again, they struggled to put up strong numbers against the Athletics dominant pitching staff.  The Orioles collected 77 base hits in 10 games (7.7 per game), but scored only 38 runs (3.8 per game)- which points to the fact that the Birds failed to get the clutch hit.

2011, 4-3

If the Birds can continue their uncharacteristic success against the A’s this season, they might be able t o put together their first winning season in the last 10+ years against Oakland.

So far, the Birds’ pitching has been their best in the last ten years against the Athletics as they sport a 3.00 ERA as they’ve allowed 20 earned runs in 60 innings pitched this year.  The A’s are hitting .262 off the Birds’ hurlers in 2011.

The Orioles have scored 25 runs over the first seven games (3.57 per runs per game) and they’ve accumulated 50 hits (7.14 hits per game) in 216 at-bats, which equates to a low .231 batting average; but they’ve been able to score runs when it counts and win the games they should.

So, before this season, the Birds have really struggled against the Athletics over the last 10+ years and mainly because the A’s pitching staff has completely controlled most of the games from start to finish.

Coming into tonight’s game against the A’s, the Birds have won the last four meetings (a three-game sweep in Baltimore and Monday night’s contest in Oakland).  Orioles’ pitchers have allowed only six runs over the last four games, while scoring 17 runs.

Let’s see if the Orioles can remain hot against the A’s and find a way to win at least one of the remaining two games in Oakland over the next day and a half.  If they do, this would be their first winning season against the A’s over this horrendous stretch.

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(Stats were taken prior to Tuesday night’s game vs. the A’s)