The Orioles have shown much-improved plate discipline during the early weeks of the 2016 season, which helped them get off to the best start in Baltimore franchise history. The only question is whether that was an aberration or will become the norm this season.
Of course, there is a balance to be struck between patience and aggressiveness and it isn't always easy to find.
Tuesday night's loss to the Blue Jays was a good example. The Orioles were facing a highly efficient pitcher in Marcus Stroman (3-0) who would go on to record his 13th career victory over an AL East opponent in just 16 decisions. They can make the case that they did a pretty good job just getting three runs off him in seven innings.
That may be true, but the Orioles have done a very good job over the past few years of bearing down on the better pitchers in the league, and they had a chance to do that again on Tuesday night after forcing Stroman to throw 29 pitches in a high-stress fourth inning. Instead, they saw just seven pitches in the fifth and nine pitches in the sixth, which guaranteed that Stroman would be around long enough to get to the setup/closer part of the struggling Toronto bullpen (0-4).
The key to squeezing a good pitcher is making him pitch with runners on base in the early innings. That increases the pitch count and also the stress level, which generally pays off later.
That's why the early on-base heroics of newcomers Joey Rickard and Mark Trumbo had such an impact during the club's terrific 7-0 start.