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Who Can Put the O’s in Offense?

Austin Hays takes a spring training AB
Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Sports
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It was a weird week for the Orioles. There were moments when this team looked completely dead, then they came back to life mid-game to win a series. This should have led to a big winning streak, but they hit a buzzsaw in the Rangers, and Andrew Heaney had other plans. They went 3-3 and lost their first series since being in Atlanta at the start of the month. This team is proving itself right now and still holds the second-best record in baseball.

We have a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get into it:

Orioles Conquered the Gauntlet

When this month started, every fan said that this team would be defined by what they would do over a “brutal” stretch of games. So how did they do against the Gauntlet? They went 13-9 against all teams above .500, with some of those teams in first place and some hot opponents sprinkled in.

Many said that going .500 in that stretch should be the goal, and they outdid that. Now they have to keep it going against teams like the Royals and Guardians who are struggling. This recent schedule solidified this team as being for real, and they aren’t going anywhere.

The Orioles need a #3 hitter…

This is the roote of the problem with this offense. Simply put, the Orioles need an intimidating presence in the middle of their lineup. Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander are good players, but Mounty hits into so much bad luck that he can’t be considered a true run creator, and Tony struggles with men on base.

…And it Should be Hays

Hope you like offense talk because there will be a lot of it today. The offense was somewhat disappointing this week. Despite scoring five and nine runs in the first two games, the offense struggled after that, putting up bad performances against some underwhelming pitching. Scoring runs has been a struggle at times this year. They can have big games but love riding the struggle bus. There have been some weird lineup decisions (why is James McCann playing every day versus lefties?) and the overall struggles of Santander and Mountcastle with men on base. The problem might have been solved, though. On Sunday, Hyde hit Austin Hays in the third hole, and he was responsible for two of the three runs scored, none bigger than the eighth-inning single that got the Orioles a win to avoid a sweep. Hyde needs to start using Hays in the three-hole more often because Tony and Mounty are not three-hole hitters, and Hays is the best option right now without making a big move. This solution is a temporary fix, the equivalent of slapping some duct tape on a leaking pipe.

Sooner or later, though, that pipe needs to be fixed before it floods the house, so the Orioles need to be aggressive in trying to get a middle-of-the-order bat who can also hit lefties.

What is RISP?

Ask an Orioles fan what is the main issue with this team right now, and most would point to the pitching. Yes, the pitching has not been the best, and they had to send Grayson Rodriguez down because he was so bad against the Rangers. To be truthful here, the pitching wasn’t that bad this week. Yes, Kyle Bradish and Tyler Wells had rough starts against the Yankees, but the arms have been fine, for the most part.

The biggest issue right now with this team is their inability to drive in runs. So many hitters can’t get these guys in either due to bad at-bats or bad luck. It is so infuriating because it constantly hurts them. It cost them on Tuesday night in extras when they needed to get a run, which, with the extra inning rule, should be easy. Instead, Tony and Mountcastle both struck out, and Adam Frazier hit into some bad luck. It can make a man pull his hair out.

This problem needs to be fixed because It cost them at least two games last week. Lineup changes are seriously needed.

The Means Setback Should be a Wake-up Call

Love it when these sections blend it one another. Mike Elias announced on Friday that John Means suffered a setback. This means he will not be back until at least August, which more likely means he won’t make his Orioles debut until late August or September. This is a wake-up call for the team, as they can’t use Means’ impending return to justify not doing anything at the deadline. It doesn’t have to be something big, but at least do something. Get a solid pitcher and number-three hitter. Get Lucas Giolito or someone like Charlie Blackmon or someone else. It is a bit early to think about this, but the Orioles can be special this year; all they need is a slight nudge in the right direction. So please don’t let this opportunity pass and do something.

We have the struggling Guardians coming in this week and then a trip to California to play the Giants. The Orioles have survived the gauntlet; now it is time to keep the momentum going.

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