Is this the beginning of the end? The Orioles drop six of their last ten.
To explain in a “John Madden-esqe” way, you can never win less you score points. Any Orioles fan who watched them take on the Los Angeles Angels this week in a 2-game miniseries surely had flashbacks to a darker time in Orioles history. This was not the team that reinvigorated the fans ofBaltimoreinto believing. This was not the team that was the cause for such twitter hash tags such as “OriolesMagic.” No, this was a team that could quickly be recalled from a place that Orioles fans had hoped would not have to be revisited. This series was a harsh reminder that there’s still a lot of baseball to come and the Orioles have some pressing issues that need to be addressed if they want a chance at the playoffs.
In the recent Angels series, the bulk of the Orioles lineup (Roberts, Hardy, Davis, Jones and Wieters) went 5 for 35. Roberts failed to get a hit and struck out twice. Hardy, despite getting robbed of a home run by Trout in “Sportscenter-worthy” clip, went 1 for 9 with four strikeouts. Sixteen people were left on base during the series. This signifies a great problem. When the Orioles are fortunate enough to get to base they cannot capitalize and put runs on the board. It does not matter how well the pitchers throw if the offense cannot generate runs. To say the Orioles are slumping would be putting it mildly. Dropping six of their last ten games, their run differential has dipped to -12. The team batting average has also dropped to 22nd in the league and overall, they are batting at .245. In fairness, the Orioles have faced some staunch competition over the last month. Nobody could blame the Orioles for faltering to R.A. Dickey and the insanity that encompasses his knuckleball. Surely, fans understood the brilliance that occurred that night at Citi Field. However, to be a winning ball club, those occurrences need to happen few and far between. In the month of June, the Orioles were shut out four times after going without all season.
Matusz pitched game one of the Angels series. He gave thirteen hits on five runs to earn his ninth loss. The bullpen was also shaky, at best, with Hunter giving a run during his two innings of relief. Collective boos ran through Camden Yards as Kevin Gregg gave up a solo blast by Trout in the 8th inning. Perhaps more surprising was the domination of Jason Hammel in the 2nd game of the series. Hammel, coming off his greatest career game and another well thrown win, had his worst outing to date for the Orioles. Giving up 8 earned runs, Hammel left the game after 3 1/3 innings. For those that watched the game, it was clear from the first inning that he was having trouble with his control. From the Hunter home run in the top of the first, it seemed as though the Angels had done their homework and knew exactly how to hit against Hammel. Despite the final box score, that was the only home run rendered against the Orioles during that game. Pairing up former “Rockies,” Lindstrom came in to relieve Hammel and gave up 2 hits and walking, allowing one earned run. It looked as though Lindstrom and Hammel were channeling their formerRockies alter-egos, which is not a good thing. O’Day also gave up two runs on three hits during his inning of relief.
If this pitching staff lacks anything, it is consistency. The raw talent is there. Every single one of our starting pitchers has the potential to throw amazing games. Throughout the season, we’ve seen Arrieta throw a no-hitter through four and then simply collapse as soon as the opposing team gets a base runner. We have seen Hammel throw a one-hit shutout and then give up eight earned runs only a few outings later. The bullpen is also starting to give up runs.
The starting pitchers need to be more consistent and go deeper into games. The offense has to score runs for the pitchers when they fulfill their end of the bargain. It’s a Ying/Yang situation. Pitchers feel more comfortable pitching when they have run support and hitters feed off that reassurance. Right now, it seems that nothing is going right for the Orioles. Fielding errors, a team wide slump and sub-par pitching has been the general trend.
With the All-Star break eleven games away, the Orioles are now only eight games above five hundred. They play the Indians at Camden Yards this weekend and then go on a road trip to the Mariners and the Angels (yes, THOSE Angels). If the Orioles can make it to the All-Star Break above five hundred, hopefully that time can be used to rejuvenate some “Orioles Magic” and launch them into the playoffs.