The Baltimore Orioles knew they would be tested as they entered a long road game trip of nine straight games to be played on three separate opponents’ turfs from May 20 through May 29.
Baltimore Orioles’ Joey Rickard, left, celebrates with Adam Jones, right, after he hits a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, May 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Team manager Buck Showalter told reporters that the “common denominator” for winning teams that make it to the playoffs in October is being competitive in both home and away games.
The Orioles have an excellent 17-8 record at home as of May 22, but haven’t been as successful in their away games. Baltimore was only 7-7 away before their current road trip began. Yet, they may be making a turn for the better as they beat the Angels in back-to-back games in Los Angeles May 20-21.
The key to their latest success on the road has been outstanding pitching. According to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina, the O’s had an earned run average of 4.31 through its first 14 road games of the year, nearly a full run more than their ERA during home games. But Baltimore improved on that over the weekend, allowing just one run in a 3-1 victory over the Angels on Saturday. Kevin Gausman started in that game and lasted nearly seven full innings before he was relieved by Vance Worley and Brad Brach out of the bullpen; Zach Britton closed the game for his 12th save of the year.
Starting pitcher Mike Wright gave up four total runs in the Orioles’ previous game against the Angels on Friday. But three of those runs didn’t come until late in the sixth inning and the O’s went on to win 9-4.
The back-to-back wins in L.A. helped Baltimore remain in first place in the American League standings with a 26-15 record, just a game ahead of the AL East division rival Boston Red Sox (26-17). The Orioles should be able to build on their lead with a three-game road series set up with the struggling Houston Astros for May 24-26; Houston has the second worst record in the AL at 17-27. But the O’s will be challenged again when they travel to Cleveland on May 27-29 to take on the tough Indians (22-18).
“We’ve had plenty of tests so far and we’ll have a lot more,” Showalter told reporters. “I have a lot of confidence in our guys…. They know what’s at stake.”