Orioles settle down after strikeout streak

The Orioles are a season-high five games below .500 as they prepare again to host the Yankees.

They don’t need to change the sheets and towels.

They’d like to change their rankings in several offensive categories, including the 138 runs and .662 OPS that were sixth-lowest in the majors after Wednesday’s 7-1 loss to the Mets. The .216 average with runners in scoring position that also put them sixth.

No team had a lower OPS with RISP than the Orioles’ .598.

There’s still a lot of season left, as manager Brandon Hyde reminded everyone again during Wednesday’s Zoom call when asked about the discrepancy in home and road records. The sample size qualifies as modest through 37 games.

The temptation is to pounce on the elements that aren’t positive, to dwell on the downers. But let’s lift the mood a little and focus on the good.

Remember the Orioles’ record-setting strikeout streak? And not the fun kind that involves the pitchers.

The Orioles struck out 14 times in their first home game against the Red Sox on April 8 to complete a weird whiff run of 13 or more in five consecutive games. No team in major league history had done it.

Batters totaled 73 strikeouts during that stretch. It truly was a team effort.

Well, for whatever reason, the Orioles haven’t gone down swinging or looking more than nine times in a game since April 23.

Working backward, they combined for five Wednesday afternoon against the Mets after compiling the following strikeout totals: eight, seven, four, eight, five, nine, nine, nine, seven, three, eight, eight, eight, eight, seven, nine and nine.

That brings us to April 23, when Athletics starter Cole Irvin and three relievers combined to strike out 10 Orioles at Camden Yards.

The Orioles returned home Wednesday ranked 12 in the majors with 321 strikeouts. The Rays were first with 390 and the Mets had the fewest with 251.

In 2019, an actual full season, the Orioles compiled 1,435 strikeouts to tie the Giants for the 16th-highest total. They were 10th with 1,412 the previous summer.

Chris Davis is home in Texas with a strained lower back. He couldn’t be blamed for the historic five-game stretch, but I’m sure his absence will be viewed as a prime reason why the team is staying below double digits.

The 2020 Tigers hold the record for highest strikeout rate at 27.3 percent. The Orioles reached 31.5 percent by April 13, but settled down.

Thumbnail image for mullins-after-strikeout-gray-sidebar.jpgRookie Ryan Mountcastle leads the Orioles with 42, followed by Trey Mancini at 34 and - this one might surprise you - Cedric Mullins at 29.

Rio Ruiz is fourth with 28 in only 87 at-bats.

Anthony Santander struck out 17 times in 16 games before going on the injured list with a sprained left ankle. His rehab assignment begins tonight at Double-A Bowie and he could rejoin the Orioles in a few days.

Last year’s strikeout leader in the truncated season was Renato Núñez with 64 and he’s no longer in the organization.

Mountcastle was 11-for-34 with two doubles and two home runs this month before going 0-for-8 in the Mets series. He hasn’t struck out in three of the 11 games.

Mancini was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Tuesday night, but went 2-for-4 with a double Wednesday afternoon and is batting .283/.327/.457 this month with two doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs in 11 games. He slashed .237/.299/.443 in 26 April games.

Third baseman Maikel Franco veered in the other direction. He batted .242/.308/.400 with six doubles, three home runs and 17 RBIs in 25 games last month and is hitting .103/.167/.128 with one double, no home runs and one RBI in 10 games in May.

Franco has four hits in his last 48 at-bats.

But I’m here to lift the mood.

Austin Hays has posted a .261 average in 11 games this month, compared to his .234 average in 13 April games. He had a .280 on-base percentage in April and has compiled a .333 OBP this month.

Hays has hit safely - as opposed to unsafely, which I assume involves running the bases with scissors - in 10 of his last 13 games.

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