Orioles quietly accomplish historic pitching feat amidst offensive explosion

Los Angeles Angels v Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Angels v Baltimore Orioles / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

Despite a sleepy 4-1 loss to the Angels in the finale of the season-opening three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, the Orioles' offense made history in winning two out of three games against their AL West foe. The Orioles' offensive explosion grabbed many of the headlines this past weekend, with Saturday's 13-run outburst following Thursday's 11-run showing on Opening Day.

What perhaps flew under the radar, however, was the Orioles' stellar starting pitching which, aside from a bumpy first two innings from Tyler Wells, was outstanding. Corbin Burnes and Grayson Rodriguez, in particular, were dominant against an admittedly mediocre Angels lineup, each pitching six innings and allowing only one run. Burnes struck out 11 Angels; Rodriguez fanned nine.

So dominant, in fact, that it was historic.

Baltimore Orioles starters made history vs. LA Angels

Both Burnes and Rodriguez made only one mistake during their starts, which resulted in solo home runs to Los Angeles' Mike Trout and Taylor Ward respectively.

Burnes was on a whole different level on Opening Day. After allowing Trout's home run in the top of the first inning, Burnes proceeded to retire the final 16 batters he would face, punctuating his outing by striking out two batters in the fifth and six innings of his start. As noted by Corey McLaughlin, Burnes was the first Opening Day starter to throw a six-inning, one-hitter with no walks and at least 11 strikeouts since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1967.

Burnes' act was a tough one to follow, but Rodriguez did not disappoint. Aside from the home run to Ward, Rodriguez allowed three harmless singles to the Angels over six innings of work. He also struck out seven of the Angels' nine starters at least once, including former Oriole Aaron Hicks three times.

Tyler Wells entered his start on Sunday hoping to continue the Orioles' dominant starting pitching trend. But ... let's be honest: following Burnes and Rodriguez's dominant starts was a very tall task. Wells struggled in the first two innings, allowing four runs (three earned), including another home run to the red hot Taylor Ward. But after Zach Neto lined an RBI single into left field in the top of the second, Wells retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, with the only batter reaching on a hit by pitch before being erased on a double play. Wells' dominance included striking out LA's three best hitters - Trout, Ward, and Brandon Drury - in the fifth inning. He also failed to issue any free passes.

While the Orioles' offense was unable to recover from the early 4-0 hole Wells put them in, Wells' outing capped off a superlative - and, as aforementioned, historic - start to the season for the Orioles' starting pitchers. This was especially important considering the fact that stalwarts Kyle Bradish and John Means began the season on the Injured List, which created uncertainty around the Orioles' starting staff.

Through three games (and, yes, it is only three games), the Orioles have demonstrated that they can compete with the bats, their arms, and, yes, their defense. Dean Kremer will aim to continue the Orioles' strong start to their season as Baltimore kicks off a three-game series against Kansas City at Camden Yards.