The Baltimore Orioles headed into Mother’s Day with a 17-12 record, good enough for first place in the American League East division at the time.
Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis watches his two-run home run in the third inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics in Baltimore, Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The first-place standing comes as no surprise, considering the red-hot start Baltimore had this season. It does, however, shock followers when you pay attention to how Baltimore has played over the course of the last two weeks.
The Orioles’ offense hasn’t exactly lived up to the lofty expectations they garnered going into this season. The team’s best offensive player, Chris Davis, just snapped a drought where he went 0-for-16 at bat, something you don’t expect to see from a guy who just inked a $161 million contract in the offseason.
Davis has his reasons for the bizarre hitting funk. He’s been trying a different approach this season, attempting to be patient at bat with less chasing of balls thrown out of the strike zone. Opposing pitchers know that Davis is capable of creating a home run out of any pitch thrown in the strike zone, so they throw him a ton of balls. If he doesn’t stay patient, he’ll swing and miss at a ton of pitches thrown far out of the zone. That’s what he was doing when he went 16 consecutive at-bats without a single hit, dating from May 3 through May 7.
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez throws to the Oakland Athletics in the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader in Baltimore, Saturday, May 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Davis finally came up with a hit in the second game of a double-header on May 7, blasting a two-run homer in a 5-2 win over the Oakland A’s. It was his eighth homerun of the season. The show on offense was combined with excellent pitching from Baltimore’s pitching staff, led by starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who lasted eight innings while giving up just two runs.
Baltimore is in a bit of a twilight zone right now – nothing seems to make sense and nothing is going as planned. In some games, the O’s look like a legitimate threat in the race to the playoffs, with their lights-out pitching and power-hitting offense. Other days, they look like a team with poor pitching that can’t hit anything on offense.
The good thing is, with all that said, they’re still in first place in the AL East. If they can somehow produce the better version of themselves more times than not, they’ll likely stay atop the division and compete for a championship.