In 2022, the Orioles peaked on September 3rd. They had a record of 71-61, 10 games over .500. After the Orioles’ 5-3 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, they moved to 10 games over .500 (19-9) after just 28 games.
Since they began the season 4-5, they’ve won 15 of 19, winning six straight series for the first time since July 21st-August 13th 2014, the year they last won the American League East.
Skeptics of the Orioles will point out that during this 19-game stretch, they didn’t play a team with a winning record. That stretch will continue on Tuesday when the Orioles begin a three-game series in Kansas City against another team with a poor record. The Royals are 7-22.
With the new schedule, the Orioles will play against each major league team, and in the next three weeks, play against four of the six teams currently leading their divisions: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Texas.
They’ll also play New York and Toronto, and the Los Angeles Angels. The only current sub-.500 team that’s on their May schedule is Cleveland.
The Orioles are unlikely to duplicate their 18-9 success in April, but if they could play breakeven ball against these tougher teams, then their national profile, which has been slowly growing, will grow steadily larger.
Bullpen success continues: After Oriole starter Kyle Bradish stumbled in the fifth inning and allowed three runs, the Orioles’ bullpen again was outstanding.
Cionel Pérez, Austin Voth, Danny Coulombe and Yennier Cano combined to record 13 outs while allowing just one hit. Voth (1-1) walked two and Coulombe gave up the hit.
Cano holds the Orioles’ record for most consecutive at-bats without allowing a hit to begin the season. He recorded four outs, and he’s at 32 straight hitless at-bats.
The bullpen has an ERA of 2.86, third best in baseball and has the most wins (10) and strikeouts (129).
Manager Brandon Hyde rested closer Félix Bautista on Sunday, and allowed Cano to record his fourth save.
Mateo starring: In 2022, there was some sentiment that shortstop Jorge Mateo had been overlooked in voting for Most Valuable Oriole. If there was voting for the MVO of the first 28 games, Mateo could win the award.
Mateo entered Sunday’s game with a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 1.6. Adley Rutschman, who won last year’s MVO, had a .7 WAR. In 2022, Mateo had a 3.3 WAR.
Last year, Mateo was mostly known for his outstanding play at shortstop, which was overlooked in Gold Glove voting.
He could receive support for April’s Player of the Month. Mateo, who hit his sixth home run on Sunday, is batting .347 and has 17 RBIs and a 1.062 OPS.
Mateo has stolen 10 bases in 11 attempts. The Orioles have 30 steals, third in the majors, and are 30-for-35 in stolen base attempts.
Stowers for Ortiz: In this first three games with the Orioles, infielder Joey Ortiz was 2-for-8 (.250) with four RBIs. Ortiz was recalled before Thursday’s game against Detroit, which threw three left-handers in the first three games.
Ortiz replaced the useful Terrin Vavra, who can play multiple positions, but didn’t have an extra-base hit or an RBI.
The Orioles have replaced Ortiz with outfielder Kyle Stowers, who was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk after going hitless in his first four at-bats.
Stowers got his first hit of the season going 1-for-4
For now, Norfolk has Ortiz, Vavra, Connor Norby and Jordan Westburg to play the infield. The Tides set a franchise record with 24 hits in a 20-1 win over Charlotte on Saturday night.
Frazier’s longball: Second baseman Adam Frazier has never been known as a power threat, but on Sunday, he hit his third home run of the season. In his previous two seasons, Frazier combined for just seven, and in 2018 and 2019 hit a career high of 10 home runs for Pittsburgh.
Minor league update: Rightfielder Shayne Fontana drove in three runs, catcher Mark Kolozsvary drove in two as Norfolk beat Charlotte, 6-3.
Ryan Watson (2-1) pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits.
Double-A Bowie’s game with Richmond, High-A Aberdeen’s game at Wilmington and Single-A Delmarva’s game with Salem were all rained out.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB