BOSTON — These Orioles are almost gleeful in their elected ignorance over how things went as badly as they did in 2018, even if almost everything they do is examined within the context of that franchise-record losing season.
Perhaps it will help that in so many markers, what they're doing so far compares well with the failures they're trying to move past, especially away from Camden Yards.
With an 8-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Marathon Monday at Fenway Park, the Orioles salvaged a series split. Combined with their series wins at New York and Toronto to open the season, they haven't lost a road series all year.
They lost 21 of 26 road series in 2018, winning just three, and are already two-thirds of the way to their 2018 win total against the World Series champion Red Sox.
"Any time you play a division opponent, especially in New York, Toronto's tough, and obviously here, if you can at least halve a four-game series or win a three-game series, it's huge," first baseman Chris Davis said. "It's huge early on, it's big late — it doesn't matter the time of year. In this division, if you get buried early, it's tough to catch up. For us to come here and split, it's big for us."
The winning formula thus far in the Orioles' seven victories has been pretty simple. Score early, score often, and have the bullpen hold on. While manager Brandon Hyde has lamented the way the bullpen hasn't been able to keep games close for the Orioles to be rewarded for their nine innings of tough at-bats, he continued his mantra that the Orioles are playing the way they're supposed to.
"We're 7-10 and that could easily be flipped around and we could have a few more wins, but I like the way that we're competing, and I like how I think our pitching staff is going to continue to improve," Hyde said. "I think our bullpen guys are going to continue to improve. I like the at-bats that we take, and I like the defense we play. We stay in games, and we won two games here. Lost kind of a tough one yesterday, but I thought our guys played well this series."
Hyde was particularly complimentary of the add-on runs the Orioles posted Monday, turning their early 1-0 lead into a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning, then adding two runs in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth. But it starts with their pitching, and the Orioles are 5-5 this season when they get at least five innings from their starters — a low bar, yes, but one that at least shows those pitchers haven't been chased early that often.
Dan Straily, a veteran right-hander signed as rotation depth April 5, contributed one of those winning performances Monday. While he's only been with the Orioles for just over a week, he's been struck by the team's attitude.
“We’re just a team that’s out there, we’re just one day at a time,” Straily said. “There’s no like big picture for us. I really have noticed that since I got here. I’ve only been here a week now or so and these guys, they’re not worried about the future, they’re not worried about the long haul of the season. It’s just, how can we win today? It’s one of those things, I’ve been in a lot of clubhouses and this one’s got its own little different vibes going on. This one’s definitely more focused on winning today than some of the others that I’ve been in.”
Davis believes that mindset, as opposed to one in which losses carry over, is especially helpful to a young team, one that has shown the ability to leave the previous day where it belongs and start anew when they arrive at the ballpark.
"This game is long, it's hard, and it'll test you mentally, physically, emotionally," Davis said. "But you've got to be able to turn the page, you've got to be able to look forward and kind of put what happened behind you and move on. I think this team has done a great job of that so far, and it's going to be a test for us moving forward."