Lost weekend in KC keeps Orioles at the “average” level

May 19, 2014 | Drew Forrester

Win two, lose two.

Can’t make the playoffs like that.

And you can’t advance to October baseball when your offense is stinking up the joint like the Birds are through seven weeks of the season.

The starting pitching has been more than adequate over the last month.  MORE than adequate.  The team’s offense — particular in the power category — is starting to be a real concern.

I thought after Thursday night and Friday night wins, the Orioles were on the verge of either a sweep or 3-out-of-4 in KC.

Turns out, as has been the case a lot so far this season, the bats forgot to leave the hotel for Saturday night’s contest.  They didn’t do a whole lot on Sunday, either, until Adam Jones cracked a 3-run shot in the 9th inning to finalize the scoring at 8-6.

How Jones ever sees a pitch he can hit is a miracle.  By now, pitchers around the league have to know what the rest of us who watch the games know.  Jones will swing at just about anything you throw in his direction.  He’s talented enough to make contact and do some damage if you throw him a strike.  So, don’t throw him one and you’re more than likely to record an out.

Don’t look now but Bud Norris is having a nice start to 2014.  Other than the Ian Kinsler dinger in his last start, Norris has been excellent at avoiding the big hit and his pitch array keeps everyone guessing.  And, remember, he’s doing this without Matt Wieters behind the plate to call the game.  I wonder if he can play shortstop and hit for power on his off days?

Quietly, of course, Zach Britton has replaced Tommy Hunter as the team’s closer.

It became completely evident on Saturday night when Load ‘Em Up Tommy came in to pitch the 8th inning of the 1-0 loss to the Royals.

I don’t blame Buck for deciding not to make some sort of “official” proclamation that Britton’s in and Hunter’s out.  You don’t want Tommy to zone out on you because he lost his job.  Instead, Buck just makes the switch and that’s that.  My guess is we’ve seen the last of Tommy as the full-time closer.  Perhaps if the Orioles ever win five in a row over a 6-day span, you might see him back in there to close one of them when Britton needs a day off.  But in terms of being anointed the team’s closer…that ship has sailed for Hunter.

How much longer can Buck trot David Lough out there in left field and try to convince the other players on the roster they’re trying to win?  He got three starts in KC this weekend and was 2-for-11 at the plate.  He’s hitting .177 on the year.  He’s not all that good.  You can’t win the American League East if your semi-regular left fielder can’t hit .200.  Might be time to have a tough talk with old David.

If Matt Wieters is done for the year, that might be the dagger the Orioles can’t handle.  Honestly, Steve Cleavenger is pretty handy with the bat.  He’s a decent, “professional” hitter.  But he doesn’t have any power at all and in no way replaces Wieters at the plate.  Or behind the plate.  If Wieters can’t play again this season, the Birds are in trouble.

Chris Davis has 3 home runs through 42 games of the season.  I realize he hasn’t played in all 42 of those.  But he has 3 HR’s.  Something’s going on there.  I wish I knew what it was, but I don’t.  He had 53 home runs last year, one every three games or so.  This season he has one home run in roughly every ten games he’s played.  That’s not $13 million worth of production.

I wouldn’t object if Buck used Nelson Cruz left more permanently and gave Davis an occasional day off at first base, allowing for Steve Pearce to play first and Davis to DH.  Maybe that would help the offense, just from a standpoint of getting a little more power in there and seeing if a day or two to just focus on his hitting would help unlock Chris Davis.

I know this:  the Orioles can’t win the American League East or make the playoffs if Chris Davis finishes the season with 18 home runs.

As Ben Affleck said at the end of “Good Will Hunting” — “I don’t much, but I know that.”