Peter Schmuck’s short take: A word of caution amid the euphoria over the Orioles' walk-off wins - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Peter Schmuck’s short take: A word of caution amid the euphoria over the Orioles’ walk-off wins

Photo credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Don’t have to tell anyone how much fun it was to watch the Orioles deliver two walk-off victories to take the second series of what promises to be another very exciting season, but there are two sides to this feel-good story and the other side doesn’t feel quite so good.

True this: If the Kansas City Royals had a real go-to closer, they would have swept the series and the Orioles would be arriving at scenic PNC Park on Friday with a losing record.

Of the 35 runs they scored on their first homestand, 24 were scored in the first two games (which was great, by the way) and eight of the other 11 were scored in the eighth or ninth innings.

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Give Jordan Westburg and James McCann all the credit in the world for delivering some great theater on Monday and Wednesday night and give young Angels starting Reid Detmers and fresh-faced Royals starters Alec Marsh and Cole Ragans their due for three strong performances, but even manager Brandon Hyde acknowledged after the Wednesday night walk-off that the Orioles haven’t exactly been themselves at the plate.

Everyone who plays the Orioles should know by now that no reasonable lead is safe. They came from behind in almost half of last year’s 101 victories, which was both a reflection on how well they hit in the clutch and how well their bullpen consistently kept hope alive in the late innings.

Hopefully, that chemistry is still intact, but the O’s also made a habit of finding ways to squeeze runs out of quality starting pitchers. That’s what did not happen over the past four games.

Of course, it’s too early to be terribly concerned, but it is fair to note that last year’s team had overpowering closer Félix Bautista and out-of-nowhere all-star setup guy Yennier Cano delivering shutdown performances throughout the first half of the season.

The bullpen script has yet to be written this year, but this group of relievers are unlikely to be as dominant … if only because it would difficult to for anyone to match what Bautista and Cano were able to do – along with a solid supporting cast – from April to August.

That’s why it’s important for the hitters to redouble their emphasis on plate discipline and make opposing starters work as hard as they had to last year. Catcher Adley Rutschman showed them the way the past two seasons and he is off to a strong start. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle also has shown signs of a lower chase rate. It just hasn’t become contagious yet.

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