The Baltimore Ravens can wait a little longer for Mobtown’s full attention, for Buck Showalter’s Orioles have taken flight like a fully-armed Predator drone.
Still unwilling to migrate south, these birds of steel are on a resolute mission to destroy enemy forces, in what is fast becoming a fun MLB march toward the postseason.
Last week, the Orioles won five of seven games. After taking three of four games from the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore deployed to Yankee Stadium and snatched two of three games from Joe Girardi and Co.
Leading the way for the Orioles last week was Nick Markakis (10 hits/.385 BA/six RBI), Zach Britton (1-0/1.13 ERA), Darren O'Day (four games/zero hits/zero runs) and a resurgent Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds deserves particular attention. Talk about a turnaround. Last week Reynolds batted .318 (7-for-22) with four homers and seven RBI. He also had seven walks and five strikeouts.
Great defense included, Reynolds’ OBP/SLG/OPS was an outstanding .483/.909/.1392.
More inspiring for Orioles fans, in the last 30 days Reynolds is batting .300 (24-for-80 with eight home runs and 17 RBI. His OBP/SLG/OPS is .434/.663/1.097.
Baltimore's closer Jim Johnson has yet to surrender an earned run since July 27 (13 outings).
Now at 75-59, the Orioles are just one game behind the Yankees for the AL East Division lead. With Baltimore has not been 16 games above .500 since 1997. This was the last year the Orioles made the playoffs.
The scariest thing is the Orioles have yet to click 100 percent. There are still three players that need to raise their games for Baltimore to take that gigantic leap into October. These players are highlighted below.
Note: Statistics are from MILB.com and taken from the last 30 days of action.
|27 ||106 ||25 ||5 ||0 ||2 ||11 ||5 ||23 ||1 ||.236 ||.296 ||.340 ||.635
Analysis: While Jones continues to get hits, he has endured a power outage of sorts. Jones has also battled the strikeout bug. That's not terribly alarming, for since the All-Star break he has hit .275 with six homers and 24 RBI with a respectable .333/.435/.769 line.
Nonetheless, everyone knows Jones is a major catalyst in Baltimore's lineup. If he gets hot along with Reynolds and Markakis and continues clutch hitting—watch out.
|21 ||79 ||18 ||1 ||0 ||5 ||12 ||5 ||27 ||1 ||.228 ||.295 ||.430 ||.726
Analysis: Davis has struggled a bit since his monster three-homer game versus the Toronto Blue Jays on August 24. While his batting average has risen since that game, he has no homers and one RBI.
Davis gives Baltimore that power bat it will definitely need down the stretch to put AL East foes away. To have a lineup where the four-headed monster that is Reynolds, Markakis, Jones and Davis are all on lock would be deadly.
Analysis: Strop has had a rough go of it in the second half of this season. Prior to the All-Star break, Strop boasted a 4-2 record with a 1.67 ERA. He had surrendered just seven earned runs in 37.2 IP. Batters were hitting just .192 against Strop, and his WHIP was 1.19.
As seen above, Strop has not been as ironclad the second half of the year. A lynchpin in the Orioles bullpen (5-2, 1.83 ERA in 59 appearances), Strop can really help this team in increasingly pressure-packed games.
Baltimore Orioles: 3 Keys to Winning AL East