I have to give my Greek brethren a little shoutout this morning. Christos Anesti, happy Easter! The best part about today: I get to eat lamb at my cousin's house (for the record, his name isn't Pete or Nick, if you were wondering), and drink ouzo, the Greek liquor that once took the finish off my mom's kitchen floor when she spilled a glass. I wonder what it does to one's stomach?
That being said, I can't remember the last Greek Easter Sunday I woke up and the Orioles and Nationals were in position to sweep their respective series. Thanks to Nolan Reimold's ninth-inning homer in Toronto on Saturday, the O's are in position to sweep the Blue Jays on the road for the first time since April 2005. Reimold's bat has come to life in Canada. He is 5-for-10 in the series with two doubles, two homers and three RBIs.
Meanwhile, for the Nationals, Edwin Jackson gave up just one earned run and pitched a complete game in the Nats' win over the Reds on Saturday. The last time through the rotation, Nats starters up just two earned runs in 34 innings. That's pretty ridiculous.
Both teams have sole possession of first place in their division. Opa!
While the Orioles are riding a team power surge into the win column, the Nationals are capitalizing on outstanding starting pitching.
The Orioles have six homers in the series with Toronto and 13 on the year. They are tied with four other teams for the most home runs in baseball. What's interesting is how many of those homers have been solo shots - 10 of the 13. It's the reason the O's are leading the league in homers (13), but 11th in the baseball in RBIs (33). Just for comparison, the Rockies also have 33 RBIs on the year, but only have five homers. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have the same amount of homers as the O's (13), but 14 more RBIs (47).
Last year, the Birds were fourth in the American League in home runs, so this power hasn't come out of nowhere. If the power is going to translate to wins, however, the O's will need to go deep in multi-run producing situations.
The Nationals are getting barely enough offense to squeak out wins in extra innings, but the starting pitching has been the talk of baseball. Davey Johnson's staff leads the majors in ERA (1.82), strikeouts (88) and opponent batting average (.170). If the offense could pick it up just a bit, with pitching like that, it won't take too many runs to win games.
As far as driving in runs, Adam LaRoche has been a one-man show. He's responsible for more than a third of the Nationals' RBIs. His 11 RBIs are fourth in the National League. His power has been much-needed and a big plus with Michael Morse shut down for at least six more weeks.
One final note, be sure to catch my interview with Nats shortstop Ian Desmond on MASN's "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report" on Monday from 5-6:30pm. I tweeted that Desmond said he doesn't focus on on-base percentage numbers, and couldn't believe how many followers chimed in. Apparently his lack of interest in that one statistic struck a nerve considering he's the Nats' leadoff hitter. It brings up a debate. How important is on-base percentage? Has "Moneyball" shifted our focus? Let me know your thoughts. Remember, when Desmond made the comment Friday afternoon, his 13 hits on the year led the National League.