Peter Schmuck: Orioles made it rain again on Saturday, but let’s not get carried away -
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck: Orioles made it rain again on Saturday, but let’s not get carried away

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Has a major league team ever averaged 12 runs per game over a full season?

Just asking.

Now seriously, folks. This is the moment when legendary Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan – if he were an Orioles fan–would be cautioning us against “irrational exuberance,” but what else are we supposed to think after they spent their first two games of the season knocking the stuffing out of a beleaguered Los Angeles Angels pitching staff?

The young Oriole hitters showed during spring training that they were determined to take another step forward after losing some offensive momentum in late September and capping last year’s 101-win regular season with a disappointing performance in the American League Divisional Series.

Manager Brandon Hyde alluded to that even before they took the field for Saturday’s 13-4 victory.

“I’m hoping these guys can take the experiences they had last year and move forward with it and improve because of it,” he said. “I think that’s who we have and I think that’s what these guys can do, but you never know.”

Obviously, nobody is really going to get ahead of themselves less than a long weekend into the season, but Hyde saw immediate evidence of greater plate discipline on Opening Day. Whether that means the Orioles will be able to put together these kinds of blowout offensive performances on a regular basis remains to be seen.

“It’s tough to be consistent offensively because of the amount of good pitching there is in this league and the bullpens that you see, but I was really impressed with our at-bats, especially the first two innings against [Patrick] Sandoval, especially in an Opening Day, packed-house, young-team situation where there’s a lot of excitement. To watch [leadoff hitter] Gunnar Henderson take four pitches just off the plate for a walk … to watch [Adley] Rutschman work the count … to watch Mounty [Ryan Mountcastle] get a walk, to me, those were maturing at-bats.”

After a first-inning homer by Angels superstar Mike Trout, the O’s scored 11 unanswered runs Opening Day on the way to an 11-3 victory.

The young hitters were not quite as circumspect on Saturday. Henderson worked the count against Angels starter Griffin Canning before launching his third career leadoff homer, and the Orioles added another first-inning run on a double by Mountcastle. But that rally and a single run in the third inning were just appetizers.

The O’s lineup hammered Canning two relievers for nine runs before there was an out in the bottom of the sixth, and Mountcastle added his second RBI double of the game in the eighth to account for the final run.

Henderson finished with a single, a triple and a home run but did not get a shot at hitting for the cycle because Hyde decided to pinch-hit newcomer Tony Kemp for him in the eighth inning.

The reigning AL Rookie of the Year didn’t seem particularly concerned about that and spent most of his postgame interview session extolling the obvious virtues of his club’s explosive batting order.

“We definitely learned from our experiences last year and being able to take them into this year and just even put up better at-bats, and just keep passing the baton,” he said. “I feel like that’s what makes our offense click and just keep doing it.”

Of course, the Orioles aren’t going to score in double digits every game, but Henderson thinks there still is a lot of offensive upside ahead, and who’s to argue after the first two games.

“I feel we’re just scratching the surface,” he said. “There’s still a lot of room to go and a lot of games to get.”


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