CHICAGO -- All offseason, while at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., Orioles catcher Matt Wieters' workouts focused on becoming "more offensive-minded", a facet of his game that hadn't caught up to his stellar defensive work in his first two seasons.
Through the team's first 24 games, Wieters -- who is 9-for-10 with three homers and 15 RBIs with runners in scoring position -- has been offensive-minded enough to give opposing teams a headache. The 24-year-old continued to establish himself as one of the Orioles' -- and perhaps one of baseball's -- best clutch hitters this season with a 2-for-5, four-RBI performance against the White Sox on Friday night.
His contributions, coupled with three RBIs from leadoff man Brian Roberts, were more than enough to help Baltimore topple Chicago in a 10-4 series-opening victory.
"I think his game behind the plate has come along probably more quickly than anybody expected it to," Orioles starter Jake Arrieta said of Wieters, who is already one of the top defensive catchers in the American League. "Everyone knew that he's going to hit, it's just a matter of time. It's tough in the big leagues, and being a full-time catcher and hitting for a high average is tough. But he's a guy that can definitely do that. And he's got the ability and the work ethic to be that kind of player. I think, with a little more time, he's going to be the guy that everyone expects him to."
Wieters' two-out, sixth-inning homer broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Orioles their first lead of the night against White Sox starter John Danks. The inning was extended thanks to Mark Reynolds, who struck out but advanced to first on Danks' wild pitch. Danks, who struggled with his command all evening, went 3-0 on Wieters before the Orioles catcher sent his fourth offering approximately 388 feet over the left-field wall.
"Wieters hit ball four," said Danks, who was tagged with five runs on eight hits over six innings. "He's a big guy, and he put a pretty good swing on a pitch he probably shouldn't have hit out of the ballpark."
But given the way Wieters is swinging the bat, even going down to get a pitch out of the strike zone reaped rewards.
"I probably should have taken it," Wieters admitted of the pitch responsible for his fourth homer this season. "But I was just able to put the barrel on the ball and it took off."
The four-RBI evening -- he also drove in a pair of runs with a seventh-inning double -- matched a career high for Wieters and gave him 16 on the season, second-most on the team. He also raised his average to .260. Could he have envisioned a better April?
"I could have drawn it up better," Wieters said with a smile. "I really feel comfortable now, getting back to how I was swinging a few years ago. We're going to keep working on it and trying to get better."
Roberts' double scored Wieters in the seventh and extended his team-leading RBI total to 19. The Orioles' leadoff hitter, Roberts has had plenty of opportunities to drive in runs given the impressive offense from No. 9 hitter Robert Andino, who went 3-for-4 with a walk on Friday to raise his average to .333.
"We don't look at it as bottom or top," manager Buck Showalter said of his lineup. "We just look at it as another portion of the order. It's one thing to get them out there, it's another thing to drive them in."
The Orioles capitalized on five walks from relievers Jesse Crain and Chris Sale, along with timely hits from Wieters and Roberts, to pad a lead that was down to just one following Brent Lillibridge's two-out solo shot off reliever Clay Rapada in the sixth.
Rapada came on in lieu of Arrieta, who looked uncomfortable early and struggled all night with his command, exiting after just five innings and 86 pitches. The 25-year-old Arrieta was charged with five hits and two walks and picked up a pair of strikeouts to record his third win in four decisions, despite battling some right hip tightness.
"I've had it for a couple weeks, that's why it's not really a big concern," Arrieta said of his hip. "I think tonight maybe just staying warm was the issue, I tried to stay by the heater in the tunnel, moving around as much as I could, but it was really tightening up on me."
Arrieta said he didn't think the hip discomfort was anything serious, and he will continue to get treatment with the team's medical staff.
"I don't know how big of a part it was," Wieters said of Arrieta's hip. "It was cold, and he just missed with a lot of pitches. He got into some 2-0 counts. I just think that was the biggest difference in being able to go through five or going through six or seven. He just was missing, getting behind some guys."
After a pair of Orioles scored in the third, Arrieta was saved another run in the third courtesy of Luke Scott's leaping catch, which robbed White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez of a potential home run in left field. Scott then homered leading off the top of the fourth to tie the game, sending Danks' 1-1 offering over the right-center wall for his fourth homer of the year and first hit off a left-handed starter this season.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.