Despite dropping their first home series this season to the American League West-leading Seattle Mariners with Thursday's loss, the Orioles still own the best home record in the AL.
The Orioles have played remarkably well at Camden Yards with a 17-8 record and .680 winning percentage there. But one of their biggest tests so far this season will be duplicating that success on the road as they embark on one of their more unconventional road trips of this season.
On Friday, they will open their longest road trip of the season thus far: a three-city, nine-game, 10-day trip that will take the Orioles to face the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, forcing them to play games in three different time zones.
"It's two common denominators of teams that play in October — having an advantage at home and being competitive on the road," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We know we have to follow that trend. It's long, tried and tested. We're going to some places where people are playing well. Everybody's trying to seek their level right now. We're in the middle of May. Everybody's trying to figure out who they are, whether they're a dancer or someone who spins the records."
The Orioles are just 7-7 on the road, and before they won two games in Minnesota last week — the third was rained out and will be made up on July 28 — they had lost their prior three series on the road.
Despite their early season challenges with unfavorable weather that has prompted four postponements and one doubleheader, the Orioles have been able to play most of their games at home. Sixteen of their next 26 games will be on the road.
At this point, the Orioles can't look at their home record as a true indicator of how well they've played, and they've beaten team's they should beat. Just three of their 17 home wins have come against teams with records above .500.
They have played better teams on the road, taking three of four in Boston against a Red Sox team that is tied with them atop the AL East. But they've also lost road series to the Texas Rangers (22-19), Kansas City Royals (20-20) and Tampa Bay Rays (19-19).
The Orioles actually have a better batting average on the road (.268) than at home (.262) and they score more runs away from Camden Yards — 4.8 per game on the road versus 4.4 at home. But the difference has been the pitching. The Orioles' road ERA is 4.31, nearly a run higher than their 3.45 mark at home.
The upcoming trip is an unusual one. It's long on miles and takes them all over the country. Following Thursday's afternoon game, the Orioles traveled across the country to play a three-game weekend series in Anaheim, Calif., then will work their way back east. After a day off Monday, the Orioles play three games in Houston and then travel north to Cleveland for a three-game weekend series against the Indians.
"Everyone here has experienced that, so it's not that big a deal. But we want to win as many of those series as we can," Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. "I think we have a good opportunity to do some damage, get the bats going a little bit and it should be some fun."
In each of the past two seasons, the Orioles have had just one trip to the West Coast, but because they match up with the National League West in interleague this year, they will make three trips out west. They will return to the West Coast from June 28 to July 6 on a three-city trip that includes series against the San Diego Padres, Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers.
From Aug. 8-14, the Orioles will spend a week in the San Francisco Bay Area, playing four games against the Oakland Athletics and three against the San Francisco Giants as part of a three-city trip that begins with three days in Chicago to play the White Sox.
"You'd rather stay out there and get some of them knocked out there instead of making three trips," Showalter said. "I'd like to say there's a good reason for it, but the chance is there's not. But I'd rather not go Houston [then out west]. It is what it is. Everybody's got a tale of woe. Nobody wants to hear it, the other 29 clubs. It's not like we're going out there on a school bus or something.
"We've had plenty of tests so far and we'll have a lot more. ... We'll find out. … I have a lot of confidence in our guys. They know what it's about, they know what's at stake."