With the Orioles improving to 41-24 with a three-game sweep over Kansas City, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Gunnar Henderson was batting .170 entering play on May 13 with many observers suggesting a demotion even with a .341 on-base percentage. Since then, he’s batted .321 with 12 extra-base hits, 14 runs batted in, and a 1.002 OPS. Patience in a 21-year-old making adjustments is definitely paying off.
2. I’ve seen plenty of long home runs at Camden Yards — including Shohei Ohtani’s 456-foot bomb only last month — over the years, but Henderson’s 462-foot rocket onto Eutaw Street was one of the more impressive ones in a while. His power to all fields is legitimate.
3. Sunday’s lineup drew pregame mocking before the middle of the order of Ryan O’Hearn, Aaron Hicks, and Ramon Urias combined to go 9-for-12 with three extra-base hits and four runs batted in. Registering your biggest blowout win of the season without Adley Rutschman or Cedric Mullins is something else.
4. Yes, the Royals are putrid, but carrying over the positive vibes from Thursday’s comeback victory in Milwaukee to sweep a last-place club is exactly what a really good team does. Baltimore improved to 17 games above .500 for the first time since July 26, 2016.
5. On Friday night, I couldn’t have been the only one surprised to realize the Orioles hadn’t registered back-to-back wins since May 24-25. Baltimore clearly hadn’t been playing its best baseball of late, but Brandon Hyde’s club also has just one three-game losing streak all season.
6. Kansas City had plenty of loud contact against Kyle Gibson in the third inning, but the 35-year-old settled in and pitched into the seventh to record his eighth win. He’s provided a high floor and a good chance to win almost every start, which is exactly what Mike Elias envisioned.
7. We’ve watched others like Anthony Santander improve their on-base ability, which is why it’s been so disappointing seeing Ryan Mountcastle post a .264 OBP and a career-low 4.6% walk rate. You love the power when he’s clicking, but that’s been too fleeting, especially with O’Hearn performing so well of late.
8. Tyler Wells didn’t feature as much swing-and-miss stuff Friday, but his 6 2/3 innings were the most he’d completed in nearly a month. His pitch efficiency could improve, but the former Rule 5 pick leads the majors in WHIP and has given up more than four runs only once.
9. Cole Irvin wouldn’t figure to have a long leash at the back of the rotation, but the 29-year-old lefty looked more like the higher-floor starter the Orioles thought they were getting from Oakland on Saturday. We’ll see how he fares against tougher competition.
10. Jorge Mateo played like an MVP candidate in April and has shown offensive potential for stretches, but he’s batting .147 with a .350 OPS since May 1. You love his speed and defense, but that won’t keep him in the lineup if the bat doesn’t heat up considerably — and soon.
11. That’s especially true with Henderson being able to move over from third base, Urias coming alive offensively, and Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz looming at Triple-A Norfolk. There are too many infield options to justify sticking with anyone too long.
12. Hyde being able to stay away from Felix Bautista and Yennier Cano in a couple blowout wins over the weekend was refreshing, but it’s worth noting how extraordinary Bautista has been over the last month. In his last 14 innings, the right-hander has struck out 34 batters. Thirty-four. That’s absurd.