Orioles living and dying by the homer

Perhaps the offensive statistic that best sums up how bad the Orioles’ hitting has been this month is this: from April to August, the Orioles averaged 4.72 runs per game.

In 21 games in September, they have scored 3.71 runs per game.

Somehow, somewhere they have lost a full run per game.

Want to speculate where it has gone?

How about here?

In the previous five months, the Orioles have had just one month in which they hit fewer than 32 homers. That was July, when they had 27 homers in 25 games.

Through 21 games in September, the Orioles have hit 22 home runs. They are 10-11 this month. When the Orioles homer, they are 65-54 (.546 winning percentage). When they don’t, they are 16-20 (.444 winning percentage). They haven’t homered at all in this series at Tampa. And they are 0-3.

The Orioles have homered 200 times this season, by far the most in the majors. The next closest is Toronto, with 182. That’s a pretty stunning gap. Yet four teams have scored more runs than the Orioles.

They often live and die by the home run. We saw that last year in the American League Division Series, when they died without hitting the longball consistently against the New York Yankees.

In the stretch run against all American League East teams this month and in the playoffs, the pitching gets better. It becomes harder to homer.

And, not coincidentally, for the Orioles it’s also becoming harder to win.

They have a lot of similar hitters: Aggressive guys with power who swing from the heels and strike out frequently. Having that much power can be a real boost in a long season.

But when good pitching is on the mound, too much of the same thing isn’t necessarily a positive.

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