Baltimore Orioles: 3 reasons to the Orioles opening week success
The Baltimore Orioles have started the season a franchise-best 5-0, giving people many reasons to believe in the Birds.
First came the opening season series sweep against the Minnesota Twins, the first time the Twins endured a sweep in Baltimore since 2012. Then then came Friday’s slugfest win against the Tampa Bay Rays. The O’s blasted Rays ace Chris Archer, taking him deep four times, which is a new career high, and three homers came in the span of five hitters.
An arctic blast accompanied by a mixture of rain and snow forced postponement of Saturday’s game against the Rays. Sunday temperatures climbed back up to the 50-degree mark in Baltimore and the Orioles remained the only undefeated team in the league with a 5-3 win over the Rays. The 5-0 start matches the best start in Orioles history set back in 1970, a season the Orioles were world champions.
Third baseman Manny Machado remains hot as he delivered a 2-run home run, a double, and two singles raising his season average to .409. Machado’s round-tripper Sunday was his third straight game with a home run and he has opened the season on a 5-game hitting streak.
A team predicted to finish last by the majority of baseball experts, the unbeaten Orioles continue to prove their doubters wrong. You don’t win a championship in April, but so far, several things are going right for the O’s. Just how good are the Orioles? Here are 3 reasons why the Orioles experienced success through the first week of baseball.
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1. Patience and Power At the Plate
The Orioles batting lineup is constructed to combat and intended to deliver the long ball often. The O’s have one of the most powerful batting lineups in the majors led by reigning home run champion, Chris Davis who signed a seven-year, $161 million deal to stay in Baltimore. To bolster an already impressive lineup that also features MVP hopeful Manny Machado, the O’s acquired the power bats of Pedro Alvarez and Mark Trumbo.
During their 5-0 start, the Orioles are second in the majors in both batting average (.298) and slugging percentage (.503). Maybe the most underrated acquisition this offseason, Mark Trumbo has 10 hits in 21 at-bats and hitting .476. Then you have the surprise of the year so far in Rookie and Rule 5 draftee Joey Rickard hitting .474 in the leadoff spot for the O’s.
MVP hopeful, Manny Machado, has carried the O’s to their magical start. After having a breakout year in 2015, the 24-year-old is in the midst of his prime and is taking his game to an even higher level. The budding superstar has hit 8 home runs in his last 11 games played, dating back to last year and is on a 3-game home run streak.
2. Quality Outings from the Starting Rotation
The biggest reason why many people picked the Orioles to finish in the basement of the American League East was their weak starting rotation. Last season, the Orioles starters finished second-worst in the American League with a 4.53 ERA. The Orioles added Yovani Gallardo this offseason to help improve their rotation, but there are some concerns with his lack of velocity as his fastballs only reach the mid-80’s.
Orioles ace Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo all picked up opening week wins. Chris Tillman’s marvelous opening day start with five strikeouts in two innings was cut short due to a rain delay. On three days rest, Tillman returned with a solid start, tossing five innings and striking out five earning his first win of the year.
When Ubaldo Jimenez is on the mound for the Orioles, you never know what you’re going to get. After allowing a run in the first two innings, Jimenez shifted into cruise control striking out nine in seven innings.
3. Conquering the Bullpen Game
The O’s bullpen continues to progress as one of the best in the league. A bullpen that finished fifth last year with a 3.21 ERA shows no signs of declining. So far this year, the bullpen ERA over 21.1 innings is 1.27, third-best in the majors.
Mychal Givens is the lone pitcher in the bullpen to give up a earned run. In hopes for a consistent Givens, the Orioles bullpen is loaded. They retained Darren O’Day to join one of the best closers in baseball, Zach Britton. Brad Brach is coming off a season where he posted a 2.72 ERA over 79.1 innings and has struck out seven in 4.1 innings in the Orioles opening week.
Next: Baltimore Orioles go 5-0 on Manny Machado’s bat
The 29-year-old left-hand veteran, Brian Matusz, is set to return from a back injury. The former fourth overall pick, Dylan Bundy appear as a relief pitcher which was his first major league appearance since 2013. Bundy threw one inning and allowed a hit in his return.