Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
After a disappointing conclusion to last weekend’s series in Minnesota against the Twins, the Baltimore Orioles strung together a five-game-winning-streak followed by a loss Sunday afternoon to the Houston Astros. Overall on the week (Monday through Sunday), the Orioles went 5-1, propelling them into first place in the AL East.
The most significant aspect of the week was the three-game-sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2013, the Rays absolutely owned the Orioles. Baltimore’s 6-13 overall record against the Rays may have been the biggest culprit in knocking the Orioles out of contention.
So far in 2014, the Orioles are 5-0 against the Rays. With the exception of the Orioles’ 7-1 victory against the Rays on April 14, each game has been decided by three or less runs. Like the Orioles’ playoff run of 2012, the close games are beginning to go the way of the birds.
After sweeping the Rays, the Orioles went back home to play the Astros and took two-of-three. In those two wins, the Orioles won by one run in each game. Though they won the series, the off putting trend of a lackluster offense it is becoming increasingly problematic.
Yes, Adam Jones and Steve Pearce hit three home runs each over the course of the week. Yes, Nick Markakis hit .346. Unfortunately, the Orioles scored a meagre 23 runs in the six games played this week (and one of those games took 10 innings to do so) despite some promising offensive weeks.
Despite an impressive lineup on paper, the Orioles have yet to really get on a hot offensive streak. They should be the type of team that lights up opposing pitchers and scores double-digits from time to time. That has not been the case in 2014.
The Orioles were lucky to finally get some productive starting pitching this past week, as the five-game-winning-streak could have just as easily went the other way. Orioles’ starters gave up three or less runs in each start this past week. However, they only made it past the third inning three times. This constant use of the bullpen will eventually have its costs, but it is pleasant to see the starters finally begin to limit the damage.
Overall, the week went well for the Orioles, regardless of a few issues on both sides of the field. Offensive matters may get even worse as catcher Matt Wieters heads to the 15-day DL and the pitching heavy Detroit Tigers come to Baltimore.
Coming up this week:
The Orioles will face the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Kansas City to take on the Royals for a four-game-set. Earlier in the season when Baltimore played in Detroit, the Tigers won two-of-three and beat up Orioles’ starters Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris. The Tigers have been hot so far in 2014, putting together an eight-game-winning-streak before losing three of their last four.
Kansas City took two-of-three earlier this season in Baltimore, holding the Orioles to just six total runs in the three games. The Royals have struggled thus far, currently ranking just 14th in the AL in total runs scored (139)
Pitching Preview vs. Det.:
Monday (7:05 P.M. ET): Rick Porcello (5-1, 3.49) vs. Norris (2-2, 3.82)