If you’re an Orioles fan and you’re looking for a piece of good news from this past weekend, some ray of sunshine from three otherwise lousy days and nights in New York, it may be this: The Birds won’t have to go back to Yankee Stadium until the middle of September. That’s pretty much where the optimism begins and ends from three days of horrors in the Bronx.
Simply put, the Orioles were mugged in New York. They’re certainly not the first tourists to be mistreated in the Boogie Down, but this was ridiculous.
To wit, the Yankees hit 11 home runs off Baltimore pitching over the three-game sweep, including a 495-foot moon shot from Aaron Judge Sunday, the longest in the major leagues this year.
The Orioles ERA in New York is nearly 11 runs per game, and their Sunday loss runs their record this year to 10-20 away from Camden Yards.
Remember those heady days of April when the Orioles were in first place and folks spoke openly of a playoff appearance? Heck, as late as May 9, they had the best record in all of baseball.
As of this airing, the Birds now sit in fourth. In the American League East, losers of eight of their last 10, which might have been 10 of 10, if not for a pair of miraculous comebacks last week against the Pirates.
So, what’s happened? Well, as is usually the case in baseball, the Orioles are suffering from substandard pitching.
Through Sunday, opposing batters are hitting .284 against Baltimore pitching, the highest such average among the 30 MLB teams.
With the exception of youngster Dylan Bundy, the Birds are getting next to nothing from their starting rotation. Staff ace Chris Tillman has pitched poorly, Kevin Gausman has been consistently inconsistent, Wade Miley, the only lefthander, has been underwhelming and Ubaldo Jimenez has been awful.
Meanwhile, the reliever corps was supposed to be the strength of the club. But closer Zach Britton, who did not blow a save last year, has missed most of the season with a forearm strain. His absence has placed other pitchers into unfamiliar roles and they have not responded.
The batting lineup has fallen into the same trap as has plagued it in recent years, namely its inability to score when it doesn’t hit homers.
Center fielder Adam Jones is playing hurt, which is likely why he’s hitting about 20 points below his career batting average. Third baseman Manny Machado has decent power numbers, but is batting 60 points below his average. First baseman Chris Davis has already struck out 95 times with 100 games to go.
There are other players turning in sub-par performances, but you get the idea. The Orioles are under-performing, which leads to a philosophical dilemma for general manager Dan Duquette.
July 31 marks baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline. After that date, it will be more difficult to acquire or trade players.
Duquette will have to decide whether to sell off players or add them by making deals. Or he could stand pat, hoping things will get better.
The good news for Duquette and Orioles fans is there are seven weeks before July 31. And the better news is no trips to New York before then.
And that’s how I see it for this week.