The bats are livening up for the Baltimore Orioles, and the goal will be to keep that trend going.
The Orioles haven’t shown much consistency on offense, so they will be tested in that regard when the visiting Kansas City Royals arrive to begin a three-game series on Friday night.
The Royals, who were off on Thursday, are embarking on a nine-game road trip after losing five of their past six contests.
The Orioles again are in position to pick up their first three-game winning streak of the season after splitting four games with the Minnesota Twins by winning the last two.
Baltimore emerged with a 5-3 victory on Thursday by hitting five solo home runs.
“We’re really talented,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “Some of these guys are starting to figure it out this year.”
The Orioles have belted seven homers in their past two games. They also struck out 12 times on Thursday without drawing a walk, so there are pros and cons to the latest batch of performances on offense.
Baltimore still sends out a lineup that has most of the players sporting sub.-250 batting averages.
“I think they’ve done a great job of staying positive,” Hyde said. “They know they’re better hitters than their numbers have shown offensively. … I think our guys are starting to get in the fight a little bit more with two strikes.”
Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins has homered in back-to-back games. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle homered twice Thursday night, and left fielder Austin Hays had the go-ahead blast.
“Putting good swings on the ball and hitting line drives,” Hays said of the objective.
Getting positive results could be the key.
“Guys were a little frustrated,” Baltimore catcher Robinson Chirinos said, noting the importance of withstanding hard-luck situations at the plate. “We want to keep it going heading into this next series.”
Baltimore’s bullpen has turned out to be clutch as well. The team’s relievers haven’t given up a run in the past two games.
If the Orioles think they’re having struggles at times offensively, those might look tame compared to Kansas City’s issues. The Royals have been shutout victims in three of their past five games.
Royals manager Mike Matheny said he has made decisions regarding the pitching staff knowing that the team was experiencing difficulty generating runs.
“We have an urgency,” Matheny said.
Kansas City’s bullpen has been scrutinized, but Matheny said it’s important to get work for right-handed reliever Dylan Coleman and others. Coleman threw two perfect innings on Wednesday in a 10-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the wake of consecutive poor outings.
“We needed to get him back on the mound,” Matheny said of Coleman. “He made some nice mechanical adjustments.”
Left-hander Amir Garrett should get more looks out of the bullpen, though Matheny has been hampered in that regard because Kansas City has faced several lineups dominated by right-handed batters.
“The more he throws, the better he’s going to be,” Matheny said.
Kansas City will go with Carlos Hernandez (0-1, 6.00 ERA) as its starting pitcher to open the series in Baltimore. The Orioles send Jordan Lyles (2-2, 4.50) to the mound.
“We need our starting pitching (to set the tone),” Matheny said.
Hernandez has allowed just two home runs in 18 innings this season. He owns an impressive career 1.80 ERA against the Orioles, having won once and lost once in two starts vs. Baltimore, both last year.
Lyles is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City. Royals catcher Salvador Perez has two home runs in eight career at-bats vs. the veteran right-hander, but Perez is hitless in his past 23 at-bats overall.
–Field Level Media