Despite a 1-2 interleague record on the Orioles' most recent road trip, crossing league lines has been good for the Orioles. Sure, losing isn't good, but the matchups have jump started a few key bats; most notably the offseason additions who came over from the National League - and get this - the pitchers.
Mark Reynolds came to Baltimore from the Diamondbacks this offseason. He said he can't use the change in leagues as an excuse for his poor first two-and-a-half months, but there's no doubt facing unfamiliar pitchers affects a hitter's comfort level.
Over the past two weeks, Reynolds' bat has heated up. He's batted .333 in his last 14 games. Clearly, this week, playing in the National League ballparks has helped. He went 5-for-13 with a homer and a double in Washington, D.C.
Derrek Lee played 14 seasons in the National League. Getting used to the American League would naturally take some time. He also battled back from a thumb injury early in the year.
Regardless, more was expected of Lee who won the NL batting title in 2005.
It's not a coincidence Lee broke out in Washington last weekend going 9-for-13. It all started with a 5-for-5 night against former NL Central teammate and opponent Jason Marquis.
We'll see if Reynolds and Lee's offensive production can continue when the O's return to American League play next week.
As for the O's pitchers swinging the bat, let's be real, nobody cares if American League pitchers can hit in the few interleague games that are played in a season. But, there's nothing like a pitcher blooping one in to get a team going. For a streaky team like the Birds that has spent the last week spiraling further and further out of contention, it's a morale booster. They'll take it.
Over the Orioles' last four interleague games, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta both produced RBIs and Chris Jakabauskas offered up two base hits in his start against the Nationals. The Orioles pitchers aren't just handling the stick, they're doing it with runners in scoring position.
The Birds could use more of that from their position players. Clutch hitting is something that has fallen off for the Orioles. Coming into the Pittsburgh series, the Birds batted .303 as a team in their last nine games, but just .202 with RISP. That's why they went 3-6 over those nine games.
In the opener against the Pirates, the Orioles righted the ship a bit going 4-for-6 with RISP in the first inning alone. They'll need that type of timely hitting when they return to the Yard next week if they want to keep pace with the offensive-minded Cincinnati Reds.
It'll be good to get the designated hitter back then as well. With a hot Reynolds, Lee and hopefully Vladimir Guerrero, the lineup could finally start to perform the way Andy MacPhail hoped when he brought the three sluggers to Baltimore this offseason.