The sound you heard that started off the month of June was a collective sigh of relief from Orioles fans.
Baltimore had finally won a game, ending the club’s 15-game losing streak with a 7-4 win over the Twins.
Baltimore’s brutal schedule to end the month of May turned out to be worse than many expected. The franchise played 15 games in 15 days before turning the calendar, all of which were losses. It was clearly going to be a tough stretch with no built-in off-days and the Orioles weren’t up to the task.
Thankfully, the club started off June with two straight wins, including the Orioles’ first series win at Camden Yards this season. Much like May, the Orioles have an abundance of off-days in the early part of the month, only to have a long stretch of games on the horizon.
That’s what worries me.
After an off-day Thursday, the Orioles host the Indians for a weekend series. The club gets another day off after that series, only to be followed by a two-game stint at home vs. the Mets. What follows that? Another day off.
So in the span of eight days, the Orioles will not play baseball on three of those days. Talk about getting needed rest.
The rest will pay dividends in both parts of the clubhouse. Matt Harvey was forced to pitch on short rest on Wednesday and was pulled after three innings of one-run ball. The Orioles’ bullpen has thrown 218 innings so far this season, the fourth highest in the major leagues.
In the lineup, Brandon Hyde is still using Trey Mancini as the designated hitter after Mancini took a fastball off the hand on May 27. Ryan Mountcastle has played a lot at first base lately, but even he took a fastball off the hand on May 25.
Fortunately, that pitch off the hand hasn’t bothered Mountcastle at the plate. His lowly April was followed up by a respectable May — the slugger slashed .256/.283/.465 last month and hit four homers. Mountcastle homered again on Wednesday night.
The next five games are as pivotal as any five games on the schedule. Why? Because after this stretch, Baltimore is stuck with 23 straight days of games. The trip includes road series against the Rays, Indians and Blue Jays, as well as a westward trip to Houston and Los Angeles.
I am not saying the Orioles need to win all five of these games and extend their win streak to seven, though that would be nice. What I am saying is that the club needs some positive momentum on their side before embarking on another lengthy campaign to finish the month of June.
The upcoming stretch of games is even longer than the one the Orioles finished May with, and we know how that stretch turned out.
Let’s not repeat that, please?
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