May 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (26) talks with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Are all the wheels coming off?

It would probably be an overstatement to say that all of the wheels are coming off for the Baltimore Orioles. There are elements that go well in every game – like Miguel Gonzalez’ fine pitching performance last night. But it would not be too much to say that the 2014 Oriole-mobile needs a major wheel alignment.

You know when your own car needs the tires aligned when it starts to rumble while going down the road, with the steering wheel vibrating in your hands. That must be how Buck Showalter feels right now. And it ain’t no smooth ride for O’s fans either.

we got no food, we got no jobs … our pets’ heads are falling off!

Nothing is working together. When there is good pitching, the Birds can’t score any supportive runs. When the Orioles string together some hits, the opponents string together the same … plus one. The balls bounce weird, the umpire ends the game with a strike call at the shoulders, bloop hits fall in for the other guys, we got no food, we got no jobs, and our pets’ heads are falling off!

Deep inside, even as this team is a great one for camaraderie, there has to be some “here we go again” sort of thinking. I remember this as a college player and pitcher—during times when my teammates were not hitting—I would find myself feeling like I needed to pitch a shutout and play for a tie.

When a starting pitcher is going strong, sits down between innings and watches three quick outs on weak pops and grounders, and is then just as quickly back on the mound, well, passing through the mind is “here we go again.”  And likewise for a fielder who has to stand and stand while ball after ball, foul after foul, runner after runner is on base in extended innings … through the mind is “here we go again.”

Well, here we go again with another day, another game, and another pitching preview.

Dallas Keuchel will pitch for the Astros, and he enters with a very fine record so far this year at 6-2 with an ERA of 2.55. His most recent start was a nine-inning, four-hit shutout of the Mariners.

Keuchel has pitched once against the Orioles in a game on June 5th of last year. He gave up one run on five hits in six innings, leaving the game with a 9-1 lead. (Freddie Garcia and Steve Johnson allowed six home runs, so maybe things today aren’t as bad as they seem!) J.J. Hardy singled home Nate McLouth who had doubled in the first inning.

Chris Tillman will see if he can get his recent troubles straightened out. Actually, what he needs to not straighten any more is his fastball, which has had no movement. Tillman is 4-2 with a 4.97 ERA. One of his loses was to the Astros on May 11, giving up three runs in five innings (along with five walks).

This game, on paper, looks bad for the Orioles. The Houston Astros and the Baltimore Orioles are teams going in opposite directions at this moment. While the O’s have lost four consecutive games, the Astros have a seven-game winning streak.

Right now, the Astros look to the Orioles like the 1927 Yankees. Things need to change very soon.


Tags: Baltimore Orioles

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