Making it happen in the early innings this year

If it feels to you like the Orioles have been getting off to better starts in games this year, you are right and there are the stats to prove it.

The Orioles have a plus-15 run differential this year - that is, they have scored 15 more runs than their opponents - and that figure is a plus-14 over the first three innings of their games.

The Orioles have outscored the opposition by a 56-42 margin in the opening three innings coming into this Kansas City series. Last year, they were outscored by a margin of 345-241 over the first three innings.

It is hard to play from behind so often and this year, the Orioles have been doing less of that. While the team has been able to pull out some thrilling late-inning and extra-inning wins, they have been setting the tone to have a good record by getting off to a good start in the opening innings of many of their games in 2012.

Last year, the first inning was the Orioles' worst inning. They were outscored 117-63 in the opening frame in 2011 and they have outscored the opposition 17-13 in the opening inning this year.

Those numbers remain unchanged in the first three innings tonight at Kansas City with the Orioles and Royals at 0-0 heading to the fourth. Tommy Hunter allowed two singles, but got two double play balls and has faced the minimum nine batters on just 25 pitches through three.

He needed just eight pitches in the opening inning, threw 12 in the second and only five pitches in the third.

The Orioles began tonight with a record of 23-14. They are 11-5 on the road, 16-6 when they score first, 12-4 in games decided by two runs or less and 6-1 against the AL Central.

Tonight they are looking for their 16th win in the last 23 games.

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