It’s fitting the Orioles concluded a forgettable 2-7 homestand against the New York Mets this weekend.
For it was this same Mets franchise that set the modern record for futility with a 40-120 record as an expansion team in 1962, and the Orioles’ biggest—if not only—storyline is quickly becoming where they might land among the worst teams in the history of major league baseball.
With the Orioles falling 11-4 on Sunday and now holding an appalling 17-46 record (on pace to lose 119 games), it’s getting harder and harder to ignore a potential date with history, though not the kind anyone wanted to see in Baltimore this season—or any season for that matter.
Those “Amazin’ Mets” lost their 63rd game of the season, giving Casey Stengel and the feeble Metropolitans a 17-46 record, the same mark the Orioles hold as they embark on a West Coast trip to San Francisco and San Diego this week. But unlike the Mets, expectations were far higher for an Orioles club many hoped would be far more intriguing—and successful—than any Baltimore has witnessed in 13 years.
The decision to fire manager Dave Trembley was made in order to ignite a spark for a baseball team struggling in nearly every facet of the game. Instead, interim manager Juan Samuel is 2-7 since taking charge at the beginning of the homestand on June 4. The offense continues to be downright offensive, the pitching continues to wilt, and the club is on the verge of falling 30 games below .500 before Father’s Day.
The managerial change has not only failed to ignite a spark, but has appeared to add kindling to the fire of a catastrophic season. In his defense, Samuel’s first opportunity to manage in the big leagues comes under impossible circumstances with an all-around beaten team having virtually no hope of turning it around.
“I’m trying to stay as positive as I can for these guys,” Samuel said after Sunday’s loss. “My job is to keep these guys going and keep them focused, continue to improve in some areas we think we can improve, like running the bases. Just doing the little things. Playing a different style of baseball when we have the chance to.”
The Orioles were 6-for-35 (.171) with runners in scoring position in the three-game sweep to the Mets and are just .217 for the entire season. The offense managed just two homers in nine games at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.
At least someone is benefiting from the club’s offensive struggles as the opposition has now made quality starts in 16 of the Orioles’ last 17 games.
And it doesn’t get any easier as the Orioles now go to San Francisco to face a Giants pitching staff with a 3.33 ERA, third in the majors.
Miffed Millwood shelled again
The season continues to spiral out of control for Kevin Millwood who fell to 0-8 after giving up five runs in the first inning, including home runs to David Wright and Chris Carter. Millwood gave up eight earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and has seen his earned run average balloon to a season-high 5.16.
Millwood’s lack of run support is well-documented, but it appears to be wearing on the veteran righty who has a 7.21 ERA over his last seven starts. Though he remained stoic in describing his performance on Sunday, it’s clear the frustration of a winless start is impacting his performance.
“A little confused, you know, I feel like I’ve been trying so many things,” he said. “I have a million things running through my head instead of just trying to execute pitches. That’s nobody’s fault but my own, so hopefully I can kind of get a clear head and just go back to throwing the ball instead of worrying about my mechanics so much.”
Millwood gave up a third home run in the fifth inning, a shot by Jason Bay on a 3-1 pitch. It was the third time this season Millwood has allowed three home runs in a game (April 11 vs. Toronto and May 13 vs. Seattle).
His 19 home runs allowed is most in the majors.
Bergesen back to minors
With Alfredo Simon set to return from the disabled list, the Orioles optioned right-hander Brad Bergesen to Triple-A Norfolk after Sunday’s game.
Samuel and the club wants to give Bergesen the opportunity to start every fifth day to work out his mechanical issues and believed keeping him in the bullpen with irregular work would not help the 24-year-old get back on track.
Bergesen is 3-4 with a 6.50 ERA in 12 appearances, 10 of them being starts. This will mark his second stint with the Tides this season after he was optioned to Norfolk in April after three ineffective outings to start the season.
“You know, it’s a numbers game sometimes,” Bergesen said. “They told me they want to get me the innings and right now I’m not getting the innings. Of course, I’m not happy, but what’s done is done. There are no grudges held here. I’ll go down and work my butt off to get back here.”
The Orioles are now 1-5 in interleague play this season and 102-133 all-time since regular season play against the National League began in 1997. Baltimore is now 9-16 all-time against the Mets.
Interleague play will continue with a six-game road trip against the Giants (35-27) and Padres (37-26), two teams battling for supremacy in the National League West.
BALTIMORE — Good afternoon from a sweltering Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles conclude an interleague three-game set with the New York Mets at 1:35 p.m.
Despite a strong eight-inning effort from Brian Matusz Saturday night, the Orioles lost 3-1, giving the Mets their first road series win of the season and dropping the Orioles to 17-45. It’s the exact record the infamous 1962 Amazin’ Mets had after 62 games. Those Mets, a first-year expansion team managed by Casey Stengel, went on to lose 120 games to solidify themselves as the worst team in big league history since 1900.
For those wondering, those ’62 Mets lost their 63rd game of the season to the Milwaukee Braves, 9-4.
The Orioles clearly have 100 games to avoid the embarrassing 120-loss mark, but the possibility is sadly becoming more realistic with every passing loss. It doesn’t figure to get any easier this coming week as Baltimore travels to the West Coast to take on the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres, both in the thick of the National League West race in the middle of June.
Kevin Millwood (0-7) goes to the bump for the Birds this afternoon, desperately trying to pick up his first victory of the season. The veteran righty pitched extremely well over the first seven weeks of the season but has struggled in his last six starts, going 0-3 with a 6.34 ERA.
It won’t be easy for Millwood as he’ll be opposed by Mike Pelfrey who has pitched exceptionally well all season but particularly over his last three starts. Pelfrey has allowed just two earned runs over his last 24 innings, including a 2-1 complete-game victory over the San Diego Padres in his most recent start.
Here are this afternoon’s lineups:
SS Jose Reyes
CF Angel Pagan
3B David Wright
1B Ike Davis
LF Jason Bay
DH Chris Carter
RF Jesus Feliciano
2B Alex Cora
C Henry Blanco
SP Mike Pelfrey (8-1, 2.23 ERA)
LF Corey Patterson
3B Miguel Tejada
RF Nick Markakis
1B Ty Wigginton
DH Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
C Matt Wieters
2B Scott Moore
SS Julio Lugo
SP Kevin Millwood (0-7, 4.64 ERA)
Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crush chat this afteroon at 1:30 p.m., as WNST personalities will discuss the action from Camden Yards. As always, remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and quips about today’s game.
Check back right here for updates (time-stamped below) leading right up to first pitch at 1:35 p.m.
12:25 p.m. — With a modest piece of good news on the injury front, reliever Alfredo Simon threw from the mound at Camden Yards earlier this morning and will be activated for Monday night’s game against the Giants if his injured hamstring holds up as expected.
Simon faced live hitters in his batting practice throwing session as pitching coach Rick Kranitz observed closely. Interim manager Juan Samuel envisions a return to the closer role for Simon with David Hernandez—who picked up the save in Thursday night’s win over the Yankees—receiving opportunities when Simon is unavailable.
Of course, it’s tough for the Orioles to create save opportunities for one closer, let alone a second guy capable of filling the role. If you’re wondering who had the last save for the Orioles prior to Hernandez on Thursday, the answer is Simon on May 22 against the Washington Nationals, two days before he suffered the hamstring injury that landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
If you’re wondering what the corresponding roster move might be if and when Simon is activated, my best guess would be Brad Bergesen being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. The young sinkerballer needs to pitch regularly, and I just don’t see enough opportunities for him out of the bullpen in a long-relief role.