It was hard to stay positive after a 1-5 start to the season. Our outlook after opening day was so promising, with Adam Jones walking it off in the 11th inning in front of a sold-out crowd at Camden Yards. But after the Gatorade shower and celebration at home plate, the Orioles went the next week without another win and came to the Bronx looking for their second victory of the 2018 season.
Despite their their struggles entering the series against the Yankees, there were some encouraging signs from the Orioles offense during their last two games in Houston against the Astros. You could feel that the club was due for a breakout - a breakout like the one we saw in the top of the seventh last night when the Birds batted around and scored five runs in the process.
Though they were winless on April 3 and 4, I was encouraged to see the offense working counts and taking pitches. It would have been easy for Buck Showalter’s club to get discouraged by the results and go up there hacking, but the Birds showed discipline and grinded through a couple tough losses. As a team, the Orioles saw 158 pitches and worked four walks in their 3-2 loss on Wednesday. They saw 155 pitches the night before, working two walks. By comparison, they saw just 131 pitches in the opener in Monday, which they lost 6-1, and 107 pitches in their 7-0 loss to the Twins on Sunday.
This patient approach finally paid off last night for Trey Mancini, who easily could have been discouraged after slashing .150/.250/.300 in his first six games and being robbed by a couple tremendous defensive plays earlier in the week. We knew Mancini’s .125 BABIP would turn eventually and atop the lineup Mancini picked up three big hits and a pair of RBIs against the Yankees.
How about Jonathan Schoop? The second baseman raked in Houston, going 7-for-13 with three doubles, a homer, a walk and three strikeouts. He might have been the only Oriole bummed about leaving the Lone Star State. Schoop is seeing the ball well and finding gaps for base hits. He should be able to continue on the path he started last season. He singled and picked up a run scored last night.
Jones seems to have found the fountain of youth. The veteran center fielder not only leads the club in home runs (three), but also in hard-hit percentage (33 percent). Jones sparked the seventh-inning rally with a bomb off Masahiro Tanaka. Any pop he can provide in the lineup while the Orioles wait for Chris Davis to figure it out and Mark Trumbo to get healthy should help the club put some runs on the board, assuming the lineup remains patient and can continue to get on base.
We all knew that the bats were going to come around eventually; the Orioles offense is too good to continue at the pace we saw from them the first week of the season. They will go through stretches where they struggle to score - all teams do. Unfortunately, the Birds started their season with one of those stretches. Despite last season’s struggles, the Orioles still managed to reel off seven wins in a row from Aug. 23-30. I’m sure they’ll have another similar stretch this season. No matter the results, the club needs to continue with its patient approach so that when the power gets turned on, they make their opponents pay. They showed that potential last night and have lots of time left to showcase it to the rest of the league.
Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_wilt. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.