It seems like a lifetime ago when the Orioles couldn't manage to scratch across a run.
The thought of an opposing one or two run lead seemed insurmountable, while Twitter became a safe haven for the O's faithful to ask the simple question of "why?". Why, in the name of all that is orange and black, could an offense that had become one of the most feared 1-9 in all of baseball, struggle so mightily to create runs?
The O's have shook off what was a miserable month of May and have gotten back to what created such a successful run of baseball over the past three seasons. That being, the home run.
The Orioles don't walk, haven't hit nearly enough doubles to drive in that extra run, while the strikeout is still as prevalent as ever. However, the home run is what has separated the O's from the rest of baseball, and the month of June has proven to be the turning point of this 2015 season, because of the return of long ball.
Having kicked off June at an 11-5 clip (11-2 in their last 13 games), compared to a 13-16 record in May, the O's have already scored 87 runs compared to last month's 95 run total. That being, again, a catalyst of the home run.
With 24 home runs in June (2nd behind only the Astros who have 27), the O's are quickly coming close to matching their long ball total from May, which sat in the middle of the pack at 28.
So far in the month of June, the man leading the charge has been leadoff hitter Manny Machado, who's slashing a triumphant .350/.400/.617, to go with 5 HR's and 11 RBI's. Adam Jones, despite having missed the last few games, has launched 4 HR's already this month, compared to a lone dinger in May. Matt Wieters, fresh off his year-long hiatus, already has 2 HR's in eight games. The new-and-improved "Steve Pearce", Chris Parmelee, has three dingers in his first two Oriole starts. Chris Davis, Nolan Reimold and yes, David Lough, all have two homers so far in June, evidence of the power surge up-and-down the lineup.
The Orioles are getting healthier, of course, with Wieters and J.J. Hardy both returning to a more consistent role with the club, and soon, second baseman Jonathan Schoop will find himself back to his everyday role in the middle infield, yet another potential source of power in the O's lineup. As the Orioles continue to return to normalcy in the lineup, the boasting of a more prominent slugging lineup has been the result.
Simply from a fan-watching-the-game standpoint, the O's seem to be approaching at-bats with a more patient mindset. For example, Chris Davis isn't flailing at first-pitch changeups in the dirt, but instead working himself into better hitting counts, a likely product of his .250/.355/.404 June slash. Manny Machado has turned into an ideal leadoff hitter, with added power, as he's been able to fight off pitches, take hits to both left and right field while also finding the seats. Overall, there just seems to be a more fundamental approach at the plate, and the Orioles are taking advantage of what has been a refreshing, patient attack.
You can't ask the Orioles to be a small-ball, bloop single, Royals-in-October kind of offense. It's just not the way this team is wired. The O's NEED the home run. It's their identity, and it's been the most important facet of the new Oriole Way. This Orioles' team is unlikely to come near or eclipse last year's 211 home run total, but that's ok. It's simply the reminder to other teams that the Orioles can and will indeed send baseballs over the fence.
May was miserable.
June's been fun.
And home runs are awesome. Don't forget it.