Earl Weaver used to wonder how many games constitute a good start to a season. Is it just a few games or maybe 10, 20 or 40?
Well, for two games, the Orioles’ offense has certainly been clicking. In their first two games in St. Petersburg last June, the Orioles scored two total runs off the talented Rays’ staff and they have 14 in the first two games of this series.
Last year in nine games on the road against Tampa Bay, the Orioles scored 16 runs total.
At this early stage, the Orioles rank second to Boston in runs scored and team batting average in the league at .324. The Birds’ .554 slugging percentage ranks first in the AL.
Nearly half of the Orioles’ 24 hits have gone for extra bases as they have eight doubles and three homers. Not bad for two games started by David Price and Jeremy Hellickson. They also got to Tampa Bay bullpen aces Jake McGee and Fernando Rodney.
Chris Davis is 5-for-8, Brian Roberts is 4-for-8 and Adam Jones is 4-for-9. The club is 7-for-24 so far (.292) batting with runners in scoring position.
To me, it’s a pretty good sign that Roberts is starting a third straight day on the Tropicana Field turf. He’s off to a good start and what we saw from him in the spring has continued. So far, so good.
Meanwhile, Miguel Gonzalez takes the mound today for his first follow-up act to his outstanding 2012 season when he went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA. Gonzalez went 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA over 10 August and September starts. The Orioles were 11-4 in his 15 starts.
In his first start last season against Tampa Bay, Gonzalez gave up seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Then in his last three starts against the Rays, he gave up just two earned runs over 19 1/3 frames for an ERA of 0.93.
Can you call a game so early a big one as the O’s try to win the opening series? Can you call any game among AL East teams this year anything else?
Update: So we can update a few things after Chris Davis hit a two-run homer in the second to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Davis has now hit a homer in all three games of this series and has 10 homers over his past 10 regular season games. He has hit five homers in his last six games against the Rays, all at Tropicana Field.
Also, after scoring 16 runs at the Trop all of last year over nine games, the Birds have 16 already for this season.