The Baltimore Orioles still lead the American League East division with an 8-3 record, as of April 17. But that is only because of Baltimore’s red-hot start during the first week of the season.
Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones (10) rounds the bases on his solo home run in front of third base coach Bobby Dickerson (11) against the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
The Orioles played nearly perfect baseball during its first five games, using a balance of power hitting with effective pitching to go 5-0. But that balance of good offense and defense diminished during the last six games played, and that has been reflected in their record. Baltimore has gone .500 since its 5-0 start, winning three games but also losing three games. And the major theme in those three losses has been a poor showing from its starting pitchers.
When the Orioles lost to the Texas Rangers, 8-4, on April 16, starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo gave up four runs with nine hits in six innings pitched. His reliever, T.J. McFarland, didn’t make things any better, giving up three runs in the seventh inning. The same problem occurred on April 14 when Baltimore fell to the Rangers, 6-3. Starting pitcher Chris Tillman allowed nine hits with six runs in just five innings pitched.
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo delivers to the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
The good news is that in each of those losses, the Orioles still put up good offense. Power batters like Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo all crushed home runs. Trumbo and Davis both have five homers so far on the season and Machado has four.
But Baltimore will need more than just power hitting if they wish to remain in first place in the AL East. The Orioles need the kind of strong pitching they received from their pitchers during the opening week of the season, from the starters and the bullpen. Tillman and Gallardo will have to be more consistent, and relievers like McFarland, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Zack Britton must be dependably relied upon to help carry the load. That’s the only way this Orioles team can stay ahead of the competition.