By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:11 AM EDT, September 5, 2013
With two home runs in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to Cleveland, the Orioles lead the majors with 185 homers, but is the Orioles offense too reliant on the home run to score?
On Wednesday, all four runs were scored on homers by Adam Jones and Manny Machado. Meanwhile, the Orioles were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, the sole hit being Machado’s three-run, game-tying homer in the fifth.
Their past 11 runs have all been scored on home runs, as have 17 of their past 21 and 19 of 26 dating back to Aug. 30. Over their three games in Cleveland, the Orioles were 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position.
“We haven’t been consistent,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s always one thing. Are you worried about the power? Are you worried about lack of power? Are you worried about walking? Are you worried about striking out? There’s always another thing. Offensively, we’re scoring enough runs to win baseball games. There’s some ebb and flow to it.”
The Orioles lineup is built for power. They have four hitters with at least 20 homers, one of whom will likely hit 30 (Jones) and another who should hit at least 50 (Chris Davis). But it seems like when the Orioles need a key hit with runners in scoring position, they struggle.
It’s great in a game like Wednesday, when one swing brings you back from a three-run deficit, as Machado’s blast did. And there’s no doubt that the Orioles offense is one of the most potent in the game, but they’ve also been prone to major droughts. And once September hits, pitching starts to dominate, and manufacturing runs with station-to-station baseball, like the Indians did on Wednesday, wins games.
“You go with your strengths,” Jones said. “You obviously want to work on your weaknesses, but you want to go on your strengths. We’re obviously a lineup that can launch the ball. That’s how we’re built. We drive the ball. We’re a double and home run type of team. I’m not going say we’re need to change the style of hitting because it’s made us successful as a group, as individuals as a collective unit.
“We just have to squeeze in a little more timely hitting and that’s pretty much it,” Jones added. “As long as we’re creating the opportunity I can live with that. If we get two hits, five hits in a game, someone’s going to be complaining, but if you get 10 hits and didn’t get that many runs, you still created the opportunity.”
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