There were good signs over the weekend for the offense

It was at least a small step forward over the weekend at Oakland for the Orioles on offense. They scored 16 runs on 28 hits, batting .264 for the three games with four doubles and four home runs.

There was no offensive explosion, but there seemed to be less chasing of pitches and more clutch hits. Again, no outpouring of clutch hitting, but seeing Trey Mancini, Freddy Galvis and Austin Hays get run-producing hits with two outs was a step forward in Sunday’s 7-5 loss.

The Orioles have lost just three games this year when scoring four runs or more, and Sunday was one of them. They are now 11-3 when scoring four or better.

The Oakland outfield defense robbed them in three separate innings of scoring at least three more runs. So five runs could have easily been more.

Hays-HR-Gray-sidebar.jpgThe O’s offense in their previous six series:

* 13 runs in four games versus Seattle (3.25 per game).
* 11 runs in three games at Texas (3.67 per game).
* Seven runs in two games at Miami (3.50 per game).
* 11 runs in three games versus Oakland (3.67 per game).
* Nine runs in four games versus New York (2.25 per game).
* 16 runs in three games at Oakland (5.33 per game).

In fact, in just one series in 2021 - the three games to begin the year at Boston - did the O’s offense do better. Thanks to scoring 11 runs in that series finale, they scored 18 in the three games at Fenway Park.

“I’m really proud of the way our team played this series,” O’s manager Brandon Hyde said in yesterday’s postgame Zoom session with media. “I thought our bats were really good against some really good pitching. Up and down the order, super competitive, taking walks, getting big hits in big spots against a good team. So taking this as a positive even though it’s a tough loss. Besides the one inning when we didn’t catch the ball very well, I thought we played well all series.”

The Orioles did win a series from a first-place team and are now 2-1-1 in road series and 9-5 in road games. They are 0-3-1 in home series, going 4-10 to date at Camden Yards.

The Orioles began Sunday’s game ranked 25th in the majors in batting average with runners in scoring position at .217. And 28th in the big leagues in team OPS with RISP at .604.

At one point Sunday they were 3-for-7 with RISP, but finished up at 3-for-12. Still, a little better. Now can they build on it versus a Seattle team that took three of four in Baltimore earlier and is 16-13? They just played the first-place team in the American League West and tonight play the second-place squad.

Hays hit a solo homer and went 2-for-4 on Sunday. He was 4-for-13 with two homers in the series. His OPS, which was .481 about a week ago, is now .800. In six games versus Oakland, he is 8-for-25 with four homers and seven RBIs.

Ryan Mountcastle is finally hitting. He is still making some loud outs too, as he did in the sixth inning yesterday, but he went 2-for-4 in that game with a double and went 5-for-11 in the series. When the Oakland series began, Mountcastle had two multi-hit games all year. Now he has four.

He is batting .346 (9-for-26) during a seven-game hitting streak. When the streak began, he was hitting .167 with an OPS of .472. Now he is at .214/.546, making some slow progress and seemingly chasing many fewer pitches.

In hard-hit percentage, which is balls put in play at 95 mph or over, Mountcastle ranks fifth on the team at 37.7 percent. He trails Anthony Santander (50.0), Mancini (43.9), Cedric Mullins (43.0) and Pedro Severino (42.3). Those Statcast numbers were through Saturday’s games.

Speaking of Mancini, he had a big day Sunday with three RBIs and leads the team with 21. Over his past six games, he is 9-for-25 (.360) with a homer and six RBIs. Over his last 14 games, he is batting .333 (18-for-54) with three doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs.

So Mullins is finally getting a little help from others in the lineup.

Mullins and Hays could prove to be quite the 1-2 punch, with some speed and some pop, at the top of the lineup.

“I think you know Mullins is off to a great start and has been getting on base for us,” said Hyde. “Stolen a couple of bases and obviously has hit for some power. I think you’re going to see him steal more bases as the year goes on. Austin is kind of bringing a different threat in that two-hole. He’s bunted on his own once, he actually attempted (Saturday) on his own. He’s got an opportunity, also, when he gets on to steal a base. But also to, when he does get on base, be able to score from first on a double, be able to score from second every time. And have a little pop behind Cedric. I think that’s a nice tandem at the top.”

Lefty Bruce Zimmermann allowed four runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 yesterday. It was an outing that probably provided him both some things still to work on and some things to build on.

The Orioles are 8-4 and have won their last five games started by John Means or Matt Harvey. After Sunday’s game they are now 5-11 when anyone else gets the start.

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