Orioles Tough to Beat in May
As April quickly came to a close, the Baltimore Orioles (27-14) sat atop the American League east with an impressive 14-9 record, however, not too many people believed they could endure an entire season near the top of their difficult and dominant eastern division.
As the weather around the inner harbor is warming up as the summer is just around the corner, the Birds and their bats have heated up on the diamond as well.
Over their 18 contests in May entering Sunday afternoon’s matinee against the Nationals, they have won 13 of those games and have only lost one series, which came at the hands of the former American League Champion Texas Rangers.
They have played seven series this month, and they have won five of those, earning a split in a two-game series against the Yanks in New York. Among those series wins, they beat the Red Sox, Rays, Nationals, and they swept a two-game series against the Royals.
The Birds are batting .252 as a team this month, as they have collected 168 base hits in 666 at-bats. J.J. Hardy , who struggled over the first month as he hit just .184, is leading the way with 28 hits over his 83 at-bats (.337 batting average).
Nick Johnson, who finally recorded his first hit of the season on May 2 nd against his former team in New York, has come along this month. He has collected 10 hits in 30 at-bats including four doubles and seven RBI after a horrendous first month.
One of the major reasons the Birds have been winning so many games as of late is their power numbers. Entering Sunday, the Orioles lead the majors with 64 home runs. Of those 64 bombs, they have crushed 34 of those this month alone and it is still only May 20 th.
Adam Jones leads the ballclub with eight jacks and 17 RBI, while Hardy and Nick Markakis are second with six home runs apiece. Entering Sunday, they had homered at least one time in nine consecutive games.
Not only have the conventional home run hitters contributed, there have some surprises in the long ball department. Utility player Wilson Betemit has smacked three bombs, while Johnson and Robert Andino have each recorded two home runs.
Although the Birds’ offense has been producing strong power numbers, their starting pitching this May has struggled a bit. However, they have still found ways to win due in large part to their offense and bullpen.
Four of the five starters, with the exception of Wei-Yin Chen , feature an ERA above five. Ace Jake Arrieta (2-4, 4.72 ERA) is 1-2 with a 5.04 ERA this month as he has tossed 25 innings, allowed 14 earned runs on 30 base hits.
Brian Matusz and Jason Hammel have compiled five wins between the two of them this month even though their collective ERA sits at 5.17 (23 earned runs in 40 innings). Hunter has failed to win a game this month, and has allowed 11 earned runs over just 17.1 innings pitched.
Chen (4-0, 2.45) has been the best Orioles pitcher this entire season and has really come into his own this month. Over his three outings, he is 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA as he has tossed 19.2 innings, allowed six earned runs on just 15 base hits.
Other than their stellar power numbers, their bullpen has pitched well throughout the month of May as well. Three of their relievers (Kevin Gregg, Pedro Strop, and Stuart Pomeranz) have all yet to surrender an earned run this month!
Jim Johnson , who leads the major leagues with 14 saves, has recorded eight saves this month in as many chances. Not to mention, he has allowed just two earned runs over his 11 innings of work.
Darren O’Day has been one of the Birds more dominant relief pitchers this season and continues to post impressive numbers. He sports a 2.08 ERA this month as he has allowed just two earned runs over his 8.2 innings.
Luis Ayala and Dana Eveland, who were both new acquisitions this season, have shown they deserve to be here and continue to impress the Orioles faithful. Each feature ERAs below four out of the pen and consistently keep the Birds in the game late.
Other than their starting pitching struggling, their defense has failed to live up to expectations. Currently, the Orioles rank 28 th out of the 30 major league teams with 40 errors on the year. The only teams’ worse in the field, are both from the National League west, the Padres and Giants. That is one area the Birds are going to have to improve upon if they want to keep their winning ways.
The Birds have been unbeatable on the road this month as they have won all nine games entering Sunday’s match against the rival Nationals. Their bullpen ERA sits at just .60, and their offense has scored 5.8 runs per game and they’ve smashed 17 home runs.
By: Alex Van Rees
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