The Baltimore Orioles have won 10 straight games. Yes, those Baltimore Orioles. With a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night, the Orioles did what they had not done since Cal Ripken Jr. was still an active member of the team.
In the past three full seasons, the Orioles lost over 100 games. They are two wins away from their 2018 total of 47 wins, and we are just about to hit the All-Star break. A $32 million payroll isn't stopping the Orioles from playing .500 ball and giving them a small chance to make the playoffs. How have they done this?
For starters, the Orioles have a good bullpen. Every single pitcher in the O's pen has an ERA+ over 100 except for one. Cionel Perez and Felix Bautista have been particularly sharp and the Orioles' closer Jorge Lopez has 17 saves.
At the plate, Ryan Mountcastle, Trey Mancini, and Anthony Santander have led the charge. In terms of overall production, Cedric Mullins tops the team. Mullins has been the best player to watch on the Orioles for quite some time. He's a joy to watch.
Just Win, Baby
If you look at the team stat leaders, the Orioles will line up as decidedly mediocre at every measure. This is unfair because we're talking about a terrible team that is now playing well after struggling mightily. The Orioles' hot streak appears to be chemistry and belief. Longtime Oriole Trey Mancini expressed faith in their competitive nature.
"We had two tough losses in Minnesota right before this streak and we bounced right back after that," Mancini said. "But in those games, we were still competitive. We looked in the mirror and saw we developed as a team. We're playing good teams well all year."
Austin Voth also credits the pitching.
"It's a bunch of guys wanting to prove they have something left in the tank," righty Voth said. "It's their time to come here and perform and prove they can pitch in this league."
The pitching is what has made the difference. The Los Angeles Angels could learn a thing or two from the Orioles' revamped pitching process. The O's have ranked dead last in pitching three out of the last four seasons. They're 15th in the league in 2022. Going from dead last to the middle of the pack is extraordinarily impressive. Voth credits the Orioles pitching data.
"I was kind of blown away by all the data that they have here. The video guys and how they can break down stats and pitches. And individually things for each pitcher. That was big for me."
No Standing Pat
Mancini has been a member of the Orioles since his rookie season in 2016 and has averaged 27 home runs per 162 games. He's had faith in his team during this rebuilding process.
"It's nice we're being discussed in a positive manner. because anytime we were discussed on a national scale the last few years it was the opposite. But this isn't the end goal. ... There is no sense of satisfaction."
I don't want to dampen the mood because I am genuinely excited about the Orioles' recent success, but this hot streak comes with a sense of sadness for me. The Orioles ownership should still be ashamed of the minimal salary they have put on the field. Instead of reveling in their success despite the low salary, perhaps Orioles fans should be wondering: how good could they be if they put some more money into their roster?