The Baltimore Orioles are off to the best start in Major League Baseball, going undefeated in their first six games for their best start in franchise history.
Baltimore reached the 6-0 mark when they defeated American League Eastern Division rivals the Boston Red Sox 9-7 on Monday, as recorded by Yahoo Sports, in an exciting game where the lead changed hands four times. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis provided the dramatic moment with a three-run homer. He crushed a pitch from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel 434 feet with Caleb Joseph and Manny Machado on base, breaking a 6-6 tie. Davis had five RBI total in the game for Baltimore.
Mookie Betts homered in the bottom of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Orioles.
The Secrets of the Baltimore Orioles’ Success
What accounts for the Orioles’ early success?
One was Baltimore’s decision to resign Davis, a free agent at the end of the 2015 season. After trading numbers with the Orioles and being wooed by other teams for three months, Davis re-signed with Baltimore for seven years and $161 million, according to ESPN.
Davis, 30, has been with the Orioles since 2011 and already has 206 career home runs. He hit a high of 53 in 2013 and 47 last year.
Another reason for Baltimore’s early success has been the emergence of third baseman Manny Machado. Still only 23 (he turns 24 in July), Machado has been a fixture in the Orioles lineup since 2013. After two lackluster years (including 2014, when he missed half the season), Machado had a breakthrough year in 2015, when he hammered 35 home runs — he had just 33 in parts of three seasons prior — to go with 102 runs scored, 86 RBI, 20 stolen bases, and a .286/.359/.502 triple slash and a 7.1 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. Because of his breakthrough season, Machado finished fourth in the American League MVP balloting last year.
Thus far in 2016, Machado is batting .458 (11-for-24) with three home runs and a whopping 1.394 OPS.
Also contributing to the Orioles 6-0 start are the following.
- rookie left fielder Joey Richard is batting .409;
- the Orioles bullpen has been air-tight, as closer Zach Britton is three-for-three in save opportunities, and Darren O’Day (four outings), Brad Brach (five outings), Dylan Bundy and Tyler Wilson (one outing each) have yet to surrender a run;
- Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez have been solid, each posting a 1.29 ERA;
- Baltimore’s defense has committed just four errors thus far;
- manager Buck Showalter also deserves credit; their manager since 2010, he took over a lackluster team that won 93, 85, and 96 games from 2012-2014 (they went 81-81 last year), and there is little reason to think he won’t lead the Orioles to another winning season.
Orioles Benefit from an Easy Early Schedule
But what also works in the Orioles’ favor — at least early on — is a favorable schedule. In their first five games, they played the Minnesota Twins, now 0-7, and the Tampa Bay Rays, probably the weakest team in the AL East.
“It’s not that the Twins and Rays are bad teams — they’re not,” wrote Eddie Matz of ESPN. “But given the Orioles’ perceived Achilles’ heel (starting rotation), you have to admit that their first two opponents offered a nice, soft landing to start the season.”
From here on out, the Orioles’ schedule will get tougher. Tonight is their second of a three-game series in Boston, who made serious efforts to improve during the offseason. Next, Baltimore will play a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on the road. The Rangers are heavily favored to do well in the American League West.
[Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images]