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Suddenly, the Orioles are an offensive machine. Thanks to a couple of huge performances, the club averaged 7.4 runs per game over the home-and-home interleague series against the Phillies and the three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Obviously, that average is skewed by Tuesday’s 19-run outburst and the 13 that O’s hitters needed to win the deciding game in Toronto, but stats are stats. Maybe it was more important that the Orioles scored fewer than four runs just once on the way to a 5-2 record last week. Lots of laurels to go around, starting with red-hot Manny Machado (.448) and rebounding shortstop J.J. Hardy (.357), who seemed to get a hit every time he showed up in a key situation. Overall, the Orioles (including pitchers for the four interleague games) batted .276, but that’s a bit deceptive since they drew 25 walks and had a .350 on-base percentage.
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After rising from the bottom third of the majors in fielding percentage into the top five a week ago, the Orioles actually slipped a bit last week, committing four errors and dropping to seventh among the 30 big-league teams. Not exactly a nosedive, but when you’re talking about the subtle differences in fielding percentages at the top of the rankings, their two-error performance in Friday night’s game was enough to drop them out of the top five. In other words, let’s not nit-pick when the overall defensive performance continues to be very good.
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Every week, Orioles columnist Peter Schmuck will grade the performance of the Orioles in five categories. The letter grades are not directly tied to any particular statistic, but are representative of a cumulative evaluation of everything – tangible or intangible – that falls under that particular category.