Heading out west for a 10-game road trip that featured clashes between playoff-caliber teams in the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners, the general perception of most fans of the club was that going .500 on the trip would be a success.
The Birds did one better by taking the final game of the road trip in Seattle in an extra-innings contest, thanks to Manny Machado's go-ahead sac fly to deep center field in the 10th that brought in Adam Jones.
Even though the Orioles hit for just a .202 batting average on the 10-game stretch, the pitching staff more than picked up the pieces for them.
The Orioles arms combined to pitch to a 3.17 ERA, surrendered only five homers and pitched to a strikeout-per-nine ratio of 7.9 on the trip.
Considering how poorly the season started off in regards to pitching, with holes at closer and the starting rotation, Orioles pitchers have clearly turned things around—particularly the starters, who have gone deeper into games as of late and have in turn helped out the bullpen immensely.
Clutch defensive plays haven't gone unnoticed either, though.
Consider the fact that if Nick Markakis hadn't gunned out Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager in the bottom of the second inning in Sunday's series finale, the game would've never gone into extras and the Mariners would've won, 3-2, splitting the series.
The Orioles can't rely on their high-powered offense forever, as was evidenced in this past road trip, and when it falters, the pitching and defense will need to step up in a big way.
In regards to the front office, things have yet to start heating up.
So far the only trades that have been made were that of trading first baseman Brett Wallace to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash and trading away cash to the Kansas City Royals for third baseman Jimmy Paredes.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette may not be looking for a blockbuster trade.
A trade for a player say of David Price's or Jon Lester's caliber would certainly cripple the farm system as the Orioles would have to move an A-level prospect or a few B-level prospects to land either of them—and that's just not something Duquette is willing to accept, considering it would weaken the team for future seasons.
Having a core of pitching prospects that includes Dylan Bundy, Hunter Harvey and Eduardo Rodriguez bodes well for what this rotation could look like in a few years.
We're talking about a homegrown, elite rotation comparable to the likes of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays. Oh, and let's not forget Kevin Gausman, who has already reached the majors and is already considered the best pitcher on the staff.
Rest assured, Duquette does want to improve this team, be it with a bullpen arm or a utility infielder that can be had for cheap.
One thing is for certain, though: the Orioles are buyers and are in the driver's seat to take the division.
The time to win is now.
Trade Deadline Performance Grade: A
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise noted.
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