BALTIMORE — Even after missing countless opportunities throughout the night, the Orioles managed to load the bases in the ninth for Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada, the two biggest run producers for an otherwise putrid lineup. There wasn’t much more you could ask for, being down a run with your No. 3 and 4 hitters coming to the plate.
They again failed to take advantage as Wigginton struck out and Tejada grounded to second, and the Orioles fell 4-3 to the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
Manager Dave Trembley uttered the same words after the game that we’ve heard countless times this season, but the tone was different. His voice was filled with anger and frustration, far more emotion than we typically hear from the maligned skipper.
“There’s nothing for me to say other than the fact that we’re getting the opportunities and not cashing them in,” Trembley said in one of the shortest post-game press conferences you’ll ever hear.
What more is there to say? What else can you ask other than the same questions offered night after night?
Every time you begin to think this team might begin a run of better baseball—sorry, but 10-11 over their last 21 games doesn’t cut it—we see a meltdown like we did Saturday night and a tailspin immediately thereafter. The Orioles have now lost three in a row to two teams with a combined 30-44 record.
On the bright side, only a couple thousand people were at the ballpark (9,299 was the paid attendance) on a rainy night to witness the Orioles lose to one of the worst teams in baseball—a Kansas City team now three games ahead of them in a battle to avoid the title of worst record in the American League.
In what was supposed to be an opportunity to put together a string of victories against three of the worst teams in the league, the Orioles stand just 3-4 on the current homestand, needing a win tomorrow to avoid a losing record. This eight-game stretch was a chance to improve their embarrassing record. After facing the toughest teams the American League had to offer in the season’s first five weeks, the Orioles were licking their chops to face the Mariners, Indians, and Royals this past week.
Instead, they had their own chops busted once again.
The Orioles were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. They’re hitting just .120 with runners in scoring position in their 27 losses this year.
The club has scored fewer than four runs in 25 of 39 games this season, an appalling statistic continuing to get worse. Unsurprisingly, the club is just 2-23 in those 25 games.
They’ve hit into 45 double plays (second to only the Minnesota Twins), a stat that sounds insignificant until you realize the Orioles are also 13th in on-base percentage in the American League. At least they’re maximizing their opportunities in that regard.
While the Orioles have faced their share of imposing American League pitchers in the opening quarter of the season, opposing starters have pitched six innings or more 29 times this season. Make excuses if you want, but CC Sabathia isn’t taking the hill every night against this anemic lineup.
Changes need to be made. Many of them.
The players aren’t performing nearly as well as they need to, but Trembley and hitting coach Terry Crowley are responsible for that lack of production. If not, why even have a coaching staff if it’s supposedly all about the players?
Roster deficiencies have played an overwhelming part, but that doesn’t mean Trembley and Crowley are worthy of keeping their jobs either. The two are not mutually exclusive. At some point, you need to try a different message from a different group of coaches.
Garrett Atkins was 0-for-3, lowering his average to .236 as he continues to take up space at first base. Whether it’s Michael Aubrey or Boog Powell, there has to be someone out there who can give the Orioles better production.
Adam Jones has hit better of late but still sits at .245, making his 2009 All-Star appearance seem more and more like a distant memory. Why not move Corey Patterson to center for a few games to instill a little more urgency in the young outfielder?
And why is Lou Montanez still on the roster? The outfielder—hitting .114—hasn’t played since Cinco de Mayo. If Trembley doesn’t have any faith in him, bring up someone else who can try to help the team.
Wholesale changes are needed. And sorry, Corey Patterson for Nolan Reimold won’t cut it, though Patterson has played well in his brief time back in Baltimore.
Einstein said the true definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Andy MacPhail and the Orioles continue to explore and evaluate their options while waiting for conditions to get better. But nothing happens and losses continue to mount as the offensive numbers grow uglier and uglier.
Yes, losing Brian Roberts hurt. Having Felix Pie would have allowed the team to push Jones more seriously. And true, the schedule was tough.
But the excuses only go so far for a team currently on pace to win 50 games.
MacPhail’s inability to supplement the roster with legitimate big-league talent in the off-season and his choice to retain Trembley has left the Orioles an embarrassing 12-27 mess with a young core of positional talent looking less impressive everyday.
It’s time for MacPhail to start making changes.
By no means is it an easy job, but the mess isn’t going to clean itself with more waiting.
Might as well start now.
Check out the final box score here and the pre-game notes below.
***Join us right now in the Orange Crush chat to talk about tonight’s game!***
BALTIMORE — Happy Monday from a dreary Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles (12-26) and Royals (14-24) prepare for a brief two-game series getting underway tonight at 7:05 p.m. (weather permitting).
After a brief three-game winning streak against Seattle and Cleveland, the Orioles appeared to be on their way to a successful homestand entering the ninth on Saturday night.
Eight ninth-inning runs on Saturday and a listless 5-1 loss on Sunday now leaves the club at 3-3 after the first two legs and thinking about the missed opportunities over the weekend. Of course, it’s the same story throughout the first quarter of the season for this team, currently sitting in the cellar and 14 1/2 games behind the first-place Rays.
It’s hard to find any compelling reasons to be excited about two last-place teams playing on a rainy Monday night in the middle of May, but tonight’s game brings a special significance for Brad Bergesen. While in the midst of a very successful rookie season, Bergesen took the hill last July 30 against these same Royals.
Of course, he didn’t pitch again in his rookie season after taking a wicked line drive to the left shin from Kansas City first baseman Billy Butler. It was a very disappointing—not to mention scary—conclusion to an encouraging first season in Baltimore for the 24-year-old righty.
Tonight will mark Bergesen’s first start against the Royals since the injury, and Butler will be hitting cleanup for Kansas City. While Bergesen has pitched extremely well in his three starts since returning from a brief stint in Triple-A Norfolk, he clearly wants to prove the incident is fully behind him tonight.
Here are tonight’s lineups:
LF Scott Podsednik
2B Mike Aviles
RF David DeJesus
1B Billy Butler
DH Jose Guillen
3B Alberto Callaspo
CF Mitch Maier
C Jason Kendall
SP Kyle Davies (2-2, 5.22 ERA)
LF Corey Patterson
RF Nick Markakis
2B Ty Wigginton
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
CF Adam Jones
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis
SP Brad Bergesen (3-2, 5.76 ERA)
Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crush chat tonight at 7:00 p.m., as WNST personalities will discuss tonight’s action from Camden Yards. As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and quips about tonight’s game.
Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading right up to first pitch at 7:05 p.m.
6:25 p.m. — Just a few more notes to pass along before tonight’s game:
Brian Roberts will report to the minor league camp in Sarasota on Wednesday to continue baseball-related activities as he recovers from a herniated disc in his lower back. The second baseman has been on the disabled list since April 10 and was shifted to the 60-day DL last week. Roberts is eligible to return to the active roster on June 10 but would likely complete a lengthy minor league rehab stint to get back into baseball shape after missing most of spring training with the same injury.
Nolan Reimold may be readjusting to life in the minor leagues, but he will apparently need to get used to a new position as well. After taking some grounders at first base during spring training and sporadically since the start of the season, Reimold received a start at first for Norfolk on Sunday.
Manager Dave Trembley made it no secret the club is exploring any possible option at first base, and Reimold would appear to be a logical candidate given his mobility issues in the outfield after suffering the Achilles injury last season. Of course, the move would also be prefaced by Reimold straightening things out offensively after being demoted to Triple A last week with a .205 average.
If Reimold continues to play primarily at first, it could mean Brandon Snyder being sent down to Bowie. After entering the season as a viable prospect, Snyder is hitting just .200 with the Tides and has struggled to adjust to the Triple-A level. Not a good sign for a player the Orioles hoped could emerge as their first baseman of the future.
6:15 p.m. — It’s no secret the first base position has been an abomination for the Orioles this season with Garrett Atkins taking the brunt of the criticism through the first quarter of the season.
In 38 games, the club has received a .226 batting average, no homers, 11 runs batted in, and six runs from the position. It’s hard to be that unproductive at a traditional power spot on the field.
General manager Andy MacPhail said earlier today that the club is exploring other options, both internally and outside of the organization. The problem is finding one.
If you’re looking within the organization, the club has already optioned Rhyne Hughes to Triple A, so the only other legitimate possibility at this point is Michael Aubrey who received 90 at-bats in Baltimore at the end of last season.
Aubrey made the most of his time in Baltimore, hitting .289 with four bombs and 14 RBI. After struggling to begin the season in Norfolk, Aubrey has rebounded over the last couple weeks, hitting .256 with two homers and seven runs drive in.
Is he the answer? Of course not.
But when you’re talking about an upgrade over Atkins, it’s hard to go anywhere but up.