Surging Orioles offense near levels of last season's record-setting June

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

When pressed on the ebbs and flows of their powerful offense a season ago, several Orioles bristled at the notion that any team could be expected to sustain the high level of performance they carried through that June.

Such was their performance that month that it created undue expectations the rest of the way. As they nearly replicate it with their explosive August this year, the only hope is that it boosts what were once flagging playoff chances.

With a 16-hit performance in Monday night's 7-6 win over the Seattle Mariners, the Orioles extended their lead in many offensive categories this month.

As a team, they entered Tuesday leading the major leagues in batting average (.301) and OPS (.863), with their 5.96 runs per game the most in the American League and their 47 home runs tops in the game.

By comparison, the Orioles hit .300 with an .888 OPS, 56 home runs and 6.6 runs per game in June 2016. The 56 home runs were the most any team has ever hit in June.

Maybe there's a different feel because this month is part of a larger offensive upswing in the second half, but really it's just because there's been plenty of days where a big offensive number still only provides a close win, like on Monday.

"You've just got to keep your head down and try to win the next game and figure out a way to score enough runs to do it," manager Buck Showalter said. "Tonight it was seven runs. Tomorrow it could be nine. It could be three."

With three games remaining this month, it's been enough in 15 of their 26 games in August, pulling them up above .500 at 66-65 for the first time since June 11.

When looking back at what has driven the bats to surge this month, there are a few similarities to last June. First of all, it's about the collective output. Last June, all 10 Orioles who logged over 50 plate appearances had a wRC+ over the league average of 100, led by second baseman Jonathan Schoop at 171 and third baseman Manny Machado at 166.

This year, there are eight such qualifiers, led by shortstop Tim Beckham at 185 and third baseman Manny Machado at 161.

Catcher Welington Castillo and center fielder Adam Jones have been consistent producers, and after a recent swoon, rookie Trey Mancini has rebounded to connect on 14 hits in 27 at-bats over a seven-game hitting streak.

"It feels really good right now, especially offensively," Mancini said. "I feel like we’re all not trying to do too much. We trust the guy in front of us and behind us to get the job done, so yeah, it’s been really good to be a part of the offense these last few games."

Of course, Machado is the constant. Mancini said there's a different feel when he's swinging the bat like this.

“It’s been great," Mancini said. "Everybody’s been hitting on all cylinders, especially Manny really stands out to me. He’s just had an incredible month. Every time he’s up at the plate right now, you feel like something great’s going to happen, and that’s good. It kind of inspires you as an offense when a guy like that’s really on fire.”

Plotting the course of the Orioles offense in general alongside Machado's season likely does yield a parallel path. Things only started to look normal around July, and since then, the Orioles have taken off. After the All-Star break, the Orioles are tops in the majors in home runs (72), average (.291) and OPS (.835), and second in runs (248).

The remaining three games might not put the Orioles on par with last June in every category, but anything like it the rest of this month might put them in a much better spot than anyone expected come September.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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