Stats and figures behind Baltimore's historic start to the season

Rodriguez ties career high with 9 K's, Henderson falls double shy of cycle in win over Angels

March 31st, 2024

BALTIMORE -- Throughout the offseason and during the spring, Orioles players repeatedly brought up the “sour taste” left in their mouths after getting swept by the Rangers in last year’s American League Division Series. They don’t plan on letting something similar happen again.

“We’re champing at the bit this year,” right-hander Grayson Rodriguez said. “We’ve got something to prove.”

Two games into the 2024 season, that’s already quite clear.

The O’s cruised to a 13-4 win over the Angels at Camden Yards on Saturday evening, an emphatic follow-up to their 11-3 Opening Day victory on Thursday.

Let’s break down exactly how dominant Baltimore has been during its 2-0 start.

The pitching
Corbin Burnes’ first start couldn’t have gone much better Thursday, as the new Orioles ace tossed six innings of one-run ball and recorded 11 strikeouts, the most by a pitcher in his team debut in club history (since 1954). Rodriguez nearly matched him Saturday.

Rodriguez notched a career-high-tying nine strikeouts while tossing six innings of one-run ball himself. Burnes’ lone blemish on Opening Day was a Mike Trout solo homer. Rodriguez also yielded only a solo home run -- a fourth-inning blast by Taylor Ward.

Together, Burnes and Rodriguez became the first pair of starters in franchise history to open the team's season with consecutive starts of six-plus innings, one or fewer runs allowed and eight-plus strikeouts.

“That’s how you draw it up,” shortstop Gunnar Henderson said. “You want them to come out there and shove the first games of the season, and they’ve come out there and exceeded that.”

It’s the seventh time in Baltimore history that two starters have opened the team's season with back-to-back starts of six-plus innings and one or fewer runs allowed. The most recent occurrence had been 2011, courtesy of Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman.

During Rodriguez’s 84-pitch outing, the 24-year-old right-hander gave Halos hitters quite a bit of trouble with his offspeed offerings. He induced nine whiffs on 15 swings against his changeup and three whiffs on five swings vs. his curveball. Seven of his nine K’s were swinging -- four by changeup, two by curveball and one by four-seam fastball.

“The changeup was outstanding, he was throwing in the high 90s, he was throwing a ton of strikes. Good breaking balls at times,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “On the attack early in the count, getting swings. I thought he was in total command.”

O’s pitchers have recorded 27 strikeouts thus far, the most over the first two games of a season in team history (since 1954).

The hitting
The Orioles had never scored 11-plus runs in back-to-back games to open a season. Now, they have, as they’ve already pushed across 24 combined. That total ranks second in team history through two games behind only 2006, when they plated 25 during a 2-0 start.

Nine of Baltimore’s 13 runs on Saturday came during the sixth, when each of its first nine batters came around to score. The rally was capped by a three-run homer from Anthony Santander, who became the first O’s player to homer in each of the team’s first two games of a season since Steve Pearce in 2015.

“I needed earplugs,” joked Rodriguez, who watched the big inning from the dugout as 28,420 fans continuously roared from the stands.

“It’s fun watching us hit right now,” Hyde said. “A bunch of guys doing a lot of great things.”

The Orioles got three RBIs apiece from Henderson, Santander and Ryan Mountcastle, who roped a pair of doubles. Henderson belted his third career leadoff home run, going 3-for-4 and finishing a double shy of the cycle.

Henderson (4-for-8 with three RBIs) and Mountcastle (3-for-6 with four RBIs) are off to big starts. Santander’s seven RBIs through Baltimore's first two games tied Chris Davis’ club record from 2013.

“We’re definitely learning from our experiences last year and being able to take them into this year and just even put up better at-bats and keep passing the baton,” Henderson said. “I feel like that’s what makes our offense click.”

The dominance
Over the first two games, Baltimore has a plus-17 run differential that stands as the best through two games in franchise history. The previous record was plus-13 in 2006.

On Thursday, the Angels had a 1-0 advantage after the top of the first inning. The Orioles immediately answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame, and the Halos haven’t held a lead in the series since.

The defending AL East champion O’s -- who went 101-61 last year -- have to feel as if this could be the start of another special season, right?

“I feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” Henderson said. “Still a lot of room to grow and a lot of games to go.”