With 4 home runs off Chris Archer, Orioles' bats send message to rest of league

BALTIMORE -- The ball’s not supposed to carry in cold weather, but try telling that to the Baltimore Orioles.

After hitting a pedestrian three home runs in their first three games (all wins), a power-heavy O’s squad that was expected to challenge the big league record for most bombs in a season finally busted out the whooping sticks. And they did it on another frigid night at Camden Yards in a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

With temps in the 40s for most of the game and snow in the forecast for Saturday, the Birds bombarded Rays ace Chris Archer, taking him deep four times. Three of those dingers came in a lumber-loaded fifth inning that included back-to-back jacks by Nolan Reimold and Manny Machado.

The frame started with the O’s clinging to a tight 2-1 lead, and ended with them knocking Archer out of the game -- literally. Shortly after Machado’s homer made it a 5-1 game, Matt Wieters drilled a ball off Archer. The 27-year-old righty stayed on the mound to face one more hitter and get out of the inning but didn’t return for the sixth. In that fifth inning, it looked like Archer was a video game and the Orioles' offense had discovered the cheat code.

Just how brawny were the Birds bats? In 95 previous starts, Archer -- who finished fifth in the Cy Young voting last season and is expected to contend again this year -- had allowed more than two home runs only once, and he’d never allowed more than three. On Friday night, the O’s took him deep three times in a span of five hitters. And it’s not as if they were Camden Yards cheapies either: Chris Davis and Jonathan Schoop, the other two Orioles to homer, combined with Reimold and Machado to average 407 feet per pop, with Schoop’s traveling the farthest at 428 feet.

Just call ‘em Longballtimore.

“There’s no beating around the bush about this lineup,” Machado said after the game. “I think eight of the nine guys can hit 20 home runs and have done it in the past.”

Actually, if you’re keeping score at home, there are seven Orioles regulars who are members of the Twenty Tater club. For what it’s worth, two of them -- Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy -- weren’t even in the lineup tonight. Not that it mattered.

“[Archer] made some mistakes later in the game that we were able to capitalize on,” said starter Chris Tillman, who was the beneficiary of the Birds’ bombs. “It was fun to watch.”

According to Machado, it’s only going to get funner.

“Hopefully when it starts getting a little warmer,” the O’s slugger said, “the ball will start flying a little more.”

Start flying a little more?

If the ball flew any more than it did Friday, they'd need to change the cursive blue writing on it from Rawlings to Boeing. If the Orioles can launch four bombs off a stud like Archer with the mercury falling toward freezing, despite missing two former Silver Slugger winners, there’s no telling what kind of damage they’ll be able to inflict on the rest of the league as summer approaches.

“Everybody knows the lineup we have,” Machado said. “We’re gonna hit the ball.”

And hit it, and hit it, and hit it.