The Orioles won the first three games of the series by a collective 16-6 score. A grand slam by utility infielder Chris Gomez on Saturday wiped out a 4-2 deficit and lifted Baltimore to a 6-4 victory.
After opening with three straight losses in Minnesota, the Orioles have gone 6-3 to reach .500 for the first time since last April 28. Baltimore's success in the early going can be attributed to solid starting pitching, a rebuilt bullpen and contributions from role players such as Gomez, who had only eight at-bats before receiving a rare start at first base Saturday.
Before Gomez connected, the Orioles' hitting star was Alberto Castillo, who had two hits and scored twice. Castillo was expected to begin the season in the minor leagues, but an injury to starting catcher Ramon Hernandez left Paul Bako and Castillo as Baltimore's only options behind the plate.
Bako contributed a three-run homer in a win over the New York Yankees and Castillo has been reliable as his backup. Hernandez is due to be activated from the disabled list this week, but there's really no need to press him into a premature return.
"We've had two guys filling the backup role pretty darn good," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We obviously miss Ramon, but these guys have been OK for us."
Bako played in only 56 games with the Royals last season. He expected to see little action behind Hernandez, yet his five RBI already are half his total of a year ago.
"I'm just going to enjoy it while I can, have fun, hopefully mix in a few hits here or there and keep the pitchers rolling," Bako said. "The pitchers are doing a great job, basically giving us a chance to win every game."
Baltimore has a staff ERA of 3.73, nearly two runs better than the 5.40 mark of 2006.
The Royals, meanwhile, are off to a horrid 3-9 start. Things have gotten so bad that manager Buddy Bell took heart in Sunday's rainout, mainly because he figured it meant that Kansas City couldn't lose.
"Maybe a break will help," Bell said. "Sometimes, getting a little out of a routine helps. Its not always as bad as it seems. Weve just got to try to figure out how to level it off. Right now, my concern is getting us back on track and getting some guys going that are struggling right now."
Zack Greinke, the scheduled starter Sunday, was pushed back to Monday at Detroit. Everyone else in the Kansas City rotation also was backed up a day.
Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was supposed to make his first start for the Orioles on Sunday. Because of the rainout, Guthrie will be skipped in the rotation when Baltimore opens a three-game series in Tampa Bay on Monday.