Most believe the Orioles’ 2011 season, its first full year under mastermind Buck Showalter, has been over since mid-May when they really took a plunge in the Eastern standings and have never been able to lift themselves up and get back on track.
Entering the season, fans finally had reason to rejoice and everything seemed to be panning out for the Orioles for the first time in over ten years. The front office went out and really packed the lineup with proven major league ballplayers, but they’ve still failed to string together a consistent, winning season.
So, what has been the problem this season for the Birds? Plain and simple, their road statistics stick out like a sore thumb and are reason for concern in the organization. They Orioles are almost a .500 team at home (26-28), and they are currently 21 games under the .500 mark overall- that means their road wins and losses record is lopsided.
The Orioles have taken eight road trips this season, and have only collected 17 wins over those 53 contests away from the friendly confines at Camden Yards, but they played respectably on the road over the first four trips of the season.
Breakdown by Road Trips
They opened the season against the Tampa Rays in St. Peterson, Florida and showed the former American League champs that they were for real this season- well, at least at the beginning. They swept the first series on the road and started off the season 3-0 before even playing in Baltimore.
Their second road trip to Cleveland and New York was forgettable, and they exception to the above statement that their first four road trips were respectable; the Birds lost all five against the Indians and Yankees, with one of those games being rained out.
So, after the first two road trips, they were 3-5 away from Camden Yards, which is still respectable. Over their next two out-of-town trips of the season, the Birds won six of the 11 games and were now 9-10 on the road over the first 19 games of the season.
Then, it turned ugly.
Since the May 13th-May 16th road trip to Tampa Bay and Boston (they won two of three against the Rays and lost the only contest against the Red Sox after one was postponed due to rain), they’ve dropped 26 of 32 games and have not strung together more than three wins on any road trip.
For the second time this season, the Birds lost five games in a row on the road from May 27th to May 31st when they visited the Athletics and the Mariners for the first time of the season; they only won one game on that trip as they salvaged the last game against the Mariners.
Their next road trip to Toronto, Washington and Pittsburgh was another string of road games to forget as they did not win more than one game in each series, and only won back-to-back games one time.
By far, their worst road trip of the season occurred right before the All-Star break as they traveled to Atlanta to round out interleague play, then Texas and finished the first half in Boston; they only were able to win one game against the Braves and they lost the remaining seven against the Rangers and the Red Sox.
Their timing playing against Texas and Boston were both terrible as their sweep at the hands of the Rangers was part of their own 11 game winning streak and Boston won 20 games in July- all four against the Birds before the break.
So far on their current road trip to Toronto, New York and Kansas City has been much of the same old story this season. They dropped two of three north of the border and in the Big Apple, and are 1-1 against the Royals with the rubber match set for Thursday night at 8:10 pm Eastern Time.
So, now let’s take a minute and analyze their road statistics versus their home numbers on the year.
The Birds have played 107 games on the year, 54 at home and 53 on the road. While away from their home at Camden Yards, they’ve compiled a .251 batting average over 1,834 at-bats (.259 at home). All of their home statistics are higher batting-wise.
They’ve scored 208 runs on the road this season compared to 232 at home and they’ve collected 18 less hits on the road with 460. They’ve doubled 13 more times at home this season than on the road (76 away) and they’ve accumulated 11 more homeruns at home (68 at Camden Yards).
Their on-base, slugging and OPS percentages are all slightly lower on the road as well (.310, .390 and .700 on the road, compared to .321, .421 and .742 at home).
All of their offensive numbers are dramatically lower on the road this season, and they’ve played in almost equal contests at home and on the road so far. In one less game on the road, the Birds have scored 24 fewer runs.
On the road this season, they score an average of 3.92 runs per game, while they score slightly more runs per game at home with 4.30 runs per game. Their hits per game on the road and at home are very close (8.85 at home and 8.68 on the road).
Only two of their positional batting averages are close to the .300 mark, centerfield and right field of course. Adam Jones sits at .295 and Nick Markakis currently is batting .285, but other than those two positions, the rest of the team’s struggled to bat .270, with the exception of their skilled pitchers who hit .409 in visitor’s ballparks this year.
So, you might be thinking that their batting statistics aren’t too much different on the road and at home this season, but what’s really been surprising and is the reason their road record has suffered is their horrid pitching on the road this summer.
The Orioles’ pitching staff has tossed 62.2 innings more at Camden Yards in just one more game in Baltimore and their winning percentage is 160 points higher at home on the year at .481 compared to .321.
Although they’ve blown more games at home this season (seven blown at home, compared to 6 on the road), but they’ve also saved dramatically more games at home with 12 compared to just seven all season away from Baltimore.
The Birds’ have actually walked 25 more opponents at home this season (194) compared to on the road (169), but they’ve managed to strike out 15 more opponents at home (360) than on the road (345).
But, the statistics that are most-telling and more important is the ERA, and as most numbers have been thus far in comparison between the road and home, their team ERA on the road is over 20 points higher than at home on the year (.472 Camden Yards, .496 on the road).
The opponent’s batting average (.273 batting average at home, .285 on the road), on-base percentage (.339 home, .347 road), slugging percentage (.448 home, .468 road) and OPS stats (.787 home and .816 road) are all higher on the road than at home.
So, it’s obvious the Orioles’ pitching staff has failed to perform up to their standards this season both on the road and at home, but their numbers on the road are far worse. Critics speculate what the problems could possibly be: maybe they’re not comfortable playing on other fields, different stadiums, infields, pitching mounds. The list can on much longer.
But, the point is, the Birds have struggled on the road this season, and if they want any shot at finishing the season respectably, they need to play better away from Camden Yards.
The Birds have only won three games in a row on the road this season two times, compared to the Red Sox who have won at least three games in a row on five different occasions (not to mention, they’ve won five in a row three times and six in a row once).
In their division, the three tops teams, the Yankees, the Red Sox and the Rays all have more than 30 wins on the road this season. The Orioles have the least amount of wins in the majors on the road this season (three teams have 18 wins and nine teams have 30 or more wins).
It’s evident that the Orioles need to find a way to win on the road, and tonight, the Birds are going for their first series win on the road since May 13th to May 15th in Tampa against the Royals. On the year, they’ve only won three road series, and if they are going to finish the year strong, winning on the road is something they are going to need to figure out how to do.
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All Stats were gathered before Wednesday night’s game in Kansas City
About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.