When the Orioles opened the 2011 season, it was expected the offense would be greatly improved and, as a result, the team would score more runs. Even with the slow start at the plate, I still expect that will be the case. The everyday lineup has too many proven hitters with consistent track records.
But the slow start does highlight the importance of how scoring five runs in a game drastically increases the O's chances to win games.
Let's first look back to last season. The Orioles finished with a 66-96 record. That's a winning percentage of .407. But even on a team that finished 30 games below .500, the Orioles were a competitive team when scoring five runs a game. Last season the O's were 40-16 when scoring five runs a game. That's a winning percentage of .714. And that improved further under Buck Showalter. The O's were 17-3, a winning percentage of .850, after Aug. 3 in games scoring at least five runs.
In the American League East, run production is essential because of the quality of the competition. So far this season the breakdown of the Orioles' record looks like this:
Scoring at least five runs - 6-1, .857
Scoring four runs or less - 2-9, .182
In the last five games - one turn through the Orioles' starting rotation - the starters' combined ERA is 2.94. That is tremendous consistency over a five-game period. But the O's are just 2-3 in those games and the runs scored by the Orioles tells the story.
Sunday at Cleveland - Lost 4-2
Monday vs. Minnesota - Lost 5-3
Tuesday vs. Minnesota - Won 11-0
Wednesday vs. Minnesota - Won 5-4
Thursday vs. Minnesota - Lost 3-1
The O's won both games in which they scored five or more runs and lost the three games in which they scored less than five.
With the Yankees and Red Sox coming to Camden Yards to conclude the 10-game homestand, run production will be critical. I fully expect this Orioles' lineup to break out and consistently score runs. It would be good timing over the next six games against two American League East rivals for that to happen.