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Baltimore Orioles Reach Key Seasonal Junction in Series Finale With Twins

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Baltimore Orioles Reach Key Seasonal Junction in Series Finale With Twins

Posted on 19 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

It may not be a must win game for the Baltimore Orioles today in their series finale with the Minnesota Twins, but it is as close to one as you can get.

There is no such think as a “must win game” unless a loss would eliminate the team from the playoffs, or playoff contention. Instead, there are several key games throughout the length of the season and today’s game is one of them. A win gives the O’s a split with the Twins and a bit of a mental boost heading into a tricky four game series against the Cleveland Indians.

However, a loss this afternoon and the O’s will have won exactly one of their last six series, a road win over the Seattle Mariners during the July 4th week. They are currently sitting a half-game out of the race for the second Wild Card behind the Detroit Tigers and are a whopping 10-games back of the New York Yankees in the no longer close American League East. More important than all of that though could be the fact they only hold a half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox for second place in the East.

Looking at all those factors, it is probably clear to you that winning against Minnesota today isn’t just important, it is almost an imperative. All year one of the biggest questions in baseball has been about whether the Orioles are for real or not and just weeks ago there was heavy discussion about whether Baltimore should be buyers at the trade deadline. Now, because of the losing, everything is in flux. The O’s look a little like frauds wh0 can’t hit, can’t pitch and can’t string wins together and again look like a potential seller at the deadline.

A win against the Twins to split could change it all. Winning today is an important step to righting the ship and getting the team at least somewhat back on course. Perhaps they aren’t the runaway AL East Champs people believed they were in May or early June, but there is no reason this team cannot be at least competitive, if not a Wild Card team. In order to achieve those goals though, they have got to win on Thursday, otherwise every loss after it will not only move them closer to a below .500 record, but to a position where there is again a season of no-hope.

Baltimore may be a perfectly flawed team, which many think is an oxymoron, but they may have the right types of flaws to allow them to overcome their biggest obstacles. They don’t have a top lineup, but pretty everyone can hit for power, have a flawed pitching staff, but a bullpen that has been solid most of the year and all together a team suited to hang with the big boys, but not necessarily beat them.

Keep in mind, heading into the season the goal was never to beat the big boys, but rather carve a path back to baseball relevance. So far, they have begun to do that, but the team has reached a fork in the road with one path leading them towards eventually success and the other leading back to where they started before Spring Training. If they want to press on down the path they have been on, to a return to relevance, they have to show the fans and the rest world that despite a series opening loss to start the second half, they are not going to go quietly by dropping the first two.

Obviously there is a lot of baseball left, so there is no way to call Thursday’s game a must win. Looking at it though, you can see it is one the Orioles might have to win in order to keep their heads above water. If they can’t win, especially with one of their best pitchers in Wei-Yin Chen on the mound, it could mark the point in the year when the team enters full slide mode.

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Is This The Beginning of the End?

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Is This The Beginning of the End?

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Robert Testoni

The best part about the baseball season is that because of its length, in most cases the cream rises to the top. Make no mistake, they could end the season a month earlier and accomplish the same thing. There are teams that have gone from last to first in a year, (1987 Minnesota Twins, 1991 Atlanta Braves) but those were good teams that came together and stayed around for a while because of a solid nucleus of players. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have been fun, but this may be coming to a crashing end.

When the Orange Kool-Aid was spiked in May, I was the voice of reason. I have always thought August 1st was a good date, as at that point, the contenders and pretenders tend to sort themselves out. Although, I will not stick a fork in our birds right now, because they do have a month to right the ship. Let’s have fun a do a progress report.

In this look, I want to compare the Orioles of this year to the last 5 winners of the American League East. The 2007 Red Sox, 2008 Rays, 2009 Yankees, 2010 Rays, and 2011 Yankees tell an interesting statistical story of what it takes to win the division. Frankly, I know that statistics do not tell the whole story, but in baseball, which is ‘stats driven’ it lets you know where you need to be as a team.

Let’s start off with what I think is the most glaring issue with this team, the defense. In the last 5 seasons no division winner has committed more than 102 errors. That was the New York Yankees off last year. Right now, the Orioles our on pace to commit over 145 errors for the year. That means that Orioles would allow ¼ of an out more per game than the Yankees of last year. No division winner in this span has ranked lower than 4th in the league in this category. As of now, the Orioles are last.

The range for earned run average over the past 5 years is between 3.73 and 4.26. Although the Orioles team staff ERA is right in line with the range of winners at 3.85, there is more to the story. Looking deeper into the numbers the staff ERA has gone up every month of the season. After a wonderful 3.03 in April, they went to 4.16 in May, and 4.25 so far in June, which is the red flag.

Let us turn to the offense and simply look at batting average first. Taking the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010 out, no other team has hit at a clip less than .260. The Orioles are at a .244 team average right now, and as we have seen lately, it isn’t getting any better. Everyone remembers than Tampa team for having an excellent pitching staff, with no hitting. Even they hit for a .247 average.

Lastly, looking at the OPS the Orioles .716 is .20 points lower than lowly hitting Tampa team from 2010. Frankly, if you look at the class of the division over the time, the Orioles need to get the OPS up to the .800 range.

Obviously these numbers are not the, all answers to everything, but it gives you a start of where the Baltimore Orioles need too be to win the division. At this point they do not seem to be measuring up.

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