Teams across professional sports go through losing streaks and skids at some point throughout their respective sport’s regular season.
The 2012 Baltimore Ravens, who won Super Bowl 2012, in case you forgot, went on a three-game losing streak during their regular season. The Ravens lost to two backup quarterbacks and Baltimore’s offensive performances ultimately cost Cam Cameron his offensive coordinator position. Plus, a slew of Washington Redskins fans pegged their squad as “Maryland’s team,” as if we needed to hear that again. Joe Flacco went “Flaccoing” after throwing an interception at the end of the first half against the Denver Broncos. All seemed bleak in Baltimore.
“The Ravens were done.”
“9-7 to finish the season.”
“Backing into the playoffs… once again.”
“Flacco isn’t good enough.”
You know the drill by now… and look what happened.
Can I say the same for the Orioles? Not so much.
This is a completely different monster than what the Ravens had to deal with during their late-season rut. This is a question not necessarily of just the team per say, but can they get lucky again?
Heading into the season, perceptions around the Orioles were mixed in that either the team had some spending to do to further themselves as a contender or that they had to stand pat with what they had and maintain a consistent, and now playoff-experienced, roster.
Personally, I felt as if the Orioles wanted to take the next step as an organization, they would have gone after a free agent like an Adam LaRoche to replace Mark Reynolds at first base. Michael Morse to play left field every day. Kyle Lohse to become the actual “ace” of this starting rotation that features No. 3 and No. 4 starters.
But they didn’t because it isn’t their style.
The Orioles have taken an approach to build from within their own organization and it frustrates the fanbase incessantly.
Cost-effective additions, like starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens and infielders Alex Casilla and Danny Valencia, aren’t enough to satisfy fans, who have been craving a consistent, contending baseball team for 14 years.
We all know that statistics of last year’s Orioles team. The 2012 season remains regarded as somewhat of an anomaly. The roster has largely remained intact from last season.
Have they been figured out?
While the answer to that question remains uncertain at this early stage of the 2013 season, there are some actualities this team is facing:
1. Chris Davis and Manny Machado are damn good baseball players and they are only improving.
2. J.J. Hardy is swinging a hot bat and keeps proving the Orioles that his worth as a long-term shortstop is higher than expected, even at age 30.
3. Chris Tillman has quietly been the best pitcher in the starting rotation.
4. Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day have been superb out of the bullpen for the most part, especially Matusz with a WHIP of 0.60.
5. Jim Johnson has shown flashes of brilliance, but has also shown his vulnerability in non-save situations and if he can’t keep his pitches down, blown saves will follow.
6. The Orioles have used 10 different starting pitchers in a rotation that was never fully solidified to five starters at any point during the offseason.
7. The second base position looks to remain a bleak spot in the Orioles lineup all season long.
8. There is no everyday left fielder nor designated hitter, due to inconsistency at the plate, with the glove and manager Buck Showalter playing the matchups.
9. Teams deal with injuries, but the Orioles can’t afford too many to any position as their lack of depth shows in a team built more for the regular season, than a postseason run.
10. The AL East is still a great division. The New York Yankees are getting healthy. The Boston Red Sox have signs of tapering off, but the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to hit.
A four-game losing streak isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but early-season observations point to this team as one that may need luck once again to have an orange October.
Facing the best pitcher in the American League in Matt Moore today isn’t exactly something to get too excited about.
There have been positives from this club early on, but still a lot of questions are left to be answered throughout the rest of the Major League season.