Welcome to May!
I can’t believe the first month of the baseball season is already over. It seems like just yesterday I was watching meaningless Spring Training games and begging for the year to begin. Around the interwebs today you’ll come across hundreds of articles recapping April and analyzing what it means for each team/player/manager/organization. I typically find these posts annoying as the postseason doesn’t begin on May 1, but there are a few noteworthy nuggets I took away from April that I’ll share with you here.
The Orioles 16 victories tie a club record for most wins in April. They previously won 16 in 1969, 1997, 2005 and 2008. I know everyone wants to compare this year’s club to last year’s — just so you know, the 2012 Birds finished April 14-9.
That Stupid Run Differential Stat
Us insecure Orioles fans (including myself) will continue to glance at the Birds run differential throughout the season as it was used against our favorite ball club all of last year. The Orioles find themselves in third place in the AL East, half a game back of the Yankees in second and 2.5 back of the Red Sox. The O’s have the second highest run differential in the division, +26, behind the Red Sox +38 league lead.
Manny Machado In The Two Hole
A big takeaway for me over the first month of the season has been Manny Machado‘s success in the two hole in Buck Showalter‘s lineup. Many questioned whether he would be ready to take on the challenges of that spot at just 20 years old. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. Machado is hitting .304/.344/.470 and added a pair of doubles and a run scored on Tuesday night. He’s doing just fine.
As a team, the Orioles lineup has shown the ability to hit in the clutch through their first 27 games. The Orioles have the third highest OPS after the sixth inning (.778) in all of baseball, behind the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. (Who saw that coming?)
Pitching, Pitching, Pitching
My preseason prediction said that the Orioles would go as far as their starting pitching would carry them. I stand by that notion. The O’s have only had one starter pitch past the seventh inning, Wei-Yin Chen, but their bullpen looks as though they have picked up right where they left off last season. Jim Johnson is one of the best closers in baseball, Darren O’Day is one of the best set up men, Brian Matusz is a starter pitching out as a lefty specialist, Tommy Hunter throws 100 MPH and their new found long man T.J. McFarland seems to be the secret weapon. As long as they stay healthy, there’s no reason the O’s can’t follow that 2012 blue print.
It’s been a fun month, but there’s tons of baseball left to be played — 135 games to be exact. A lot can change over that span, so when you’re reading the “one month observations” today (this one included), keep in mind that in the big picture they really don’t mean a whole lot.