Every year it seems like some of the biggest winning clubs in baseball have players succeed throughout their roster. Not only the roster of 26 players but many more that contribute in a myriad ways over the long season of 162 games.
The Orioles are getting that right now and it was on display in Sunday’s 11-3 victory that completed a three-game sweep of Kansas City by a 20-6 score. The Orioles earlier had three game sweeps at home April 21-23 versus Detroit and May 19-21 at Toronto. This was their first three-game sweep of Kansas City since the 2017 season.
At 41-24, the Orioles are playing .631 ball which translates to 102 wins for a full year. They are 17 games over the .500 mark for the first time since June 26, 2016.
But on a day Gunnar Henderson grabbed some headlines with his long home run in the eighth, Ryan O’Hearn reached base five times for the first time in his career. And he did it versus a Kansas City team he has played 342 games with. O’Hearn went 3-for-3 with two walks, four runs and he hit a changeup with a 107.9 mph exit velocity in the home eighth for his fourth O’s home run.
In 24 games with Baltimore, O’Hearn is batting .328 with a .989 OPS. Among all Orioles this year, that OPS is second on the team to outfielder Aaron Hicks, who is batting .345 with a 1.058 OPS, going 10-for-29 with eight runs and seven walks in 10 games.
The players like that duo that fill out the roster are doing much more than just that for the Orioles right now.
"You need a strong bench, and we feel great about the depth on our club," O’s manager Brandon Hyde said after Sunday’s win. "Guys like (Josh) Lester and O'Hearn took really good at-bats today and we got a lot of production from them. Great day for us offensively, and pitching did an outstanding job, as well.
"I know it feels good for O'Hearn especially because of playing against a bunch of his friends from the past few years and guys that he knows across the field, and they kind of let him go. So, good for him. But we're getting contributions from a lot of guys who didn't break with us, and that's what you need over the course of six months to have a winning season."
It sure is big and was again on Sunday.
This latest win was the biggest by the win margin of eight runs since the Orioles won at Toronto 10-2 on June 16, 2022.
O’Hearn talked about the O’s getting contributions roster-wide during a season where they are establishing themselves as playoff contenders.
"I think going back to spring training, you saw how many guys were smashing baseballs all spring training, and that speaks to the organization and how they bring in the right guys. The hitting staff and how they develop guys. It's pretty impressive, the amount of depth that we have," he said.
O’Hearn added: “I feel as confident as I ever have in the box right now, and today was a lot of fun."
Lester, who delivered two hits including a two-run single in the last of the third, talked recently about how more veteran players like himself and O’Hearn have come up from Triple-A to help this year. It has not just been the club calling up 100 prospects to help, but they have done that too.
“I think it’s a testament to the organization. Obviously player development is loaded. Triple-A team is loaded and Double-A team has got some guys too and player development is really good. But bringing in guys that they believe can help win – and I think if you talk to O’Hearn – both of us are just here to help the big league team win as much as possible,” Lester said during the recent road trip.
In addition to getting big offense yesterday, the Orioles pitched so much better this time against Kansas City. When the Orioles took two of three at Kauffman Stadium in early May they allowed 23 runs and eight homers in the three games and Kansas City’s team OPS for that series was 1.062 and they produced 20 extra-base hits.
In this three-game series, the O’s team ERA was 2.00, allowing six runs and 23 hits with four walks, 25 strikeouts and just one home run allowed.
Kyle Gibson provided the Oriole their second quality start of the weekend and their 20th on the year and the Orioles are 17-3 in those games.
The Baltimore bullpen did not allow a run all weekend and has thrown 12 2/3 scoreless over the past four games.
Oh yeah and Henderson hit a Eutaw Street homer 462 feet. Did we mention he went 8-for-13 in the three games? He has homered three times in four games and four times in his last seven games.
Henderson’s OPS is now .804 for the year, which moved him ahead of both Anthony Santander and Adley Rutschman. Guess no one thinks he should go back to the minors now.
In his past 34 games, since May 1, Henderson is batting .269/.350/.558/.908 with five doubles, two triples, seven homers, 19 runs and 17 RBIs.