Jul 31, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; General view of the field prior to a game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: Season Heads toward Home

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The obligations of life prevented me from being able to see any of the Sunday afternoon loss of the Baltimore Orioles to the Chicago Cubs 2-1. Probably most of you were not so fortunate.

Catching up on the highlights of the game did not take much time. The actual highlights reel only had five seconds of tape on it: a long home run by Steve Pearce.

Who knew that the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs were secretly the best teams in baseball? The Cubs really do have some good pitching, at least for now.

This Chicago game and series makes it impossible to not bring up an old theme from this season: the too-often AWOL offence of the Baltimore Orioles. Everyone worried about pitching before the season began, trotting out the old mare from the barn of baseball expressions of “we’ll go where the pitching takes us.” Well, yes… that is sort of the nature of the game. But how about a new horse and phrase named “can’t take us where the hitting won’t?”  

Does good pitching have to stop the O’s offense so frequently?

This is truly an old theme for the Orioles. And it is true that a team is going to get shut down by some good pitching here and there. After all, the #1 stud horse in the barn of baseball expressions is, “good pitching stops good hitting.” But does it have to stop the Baltimore Orioles so frequently?

It is a surprising, but true, fact that even before this late run of quality O’s pitching since the All-Star break – looking back to 2013 and 2012 even – more Orioles losses could be laid at the feet of anemic hitting than pitchers blowing games (even with Jim Johnson last year!).

But let’s just look at this year and consider the Orioles losses. So much talk this year has been focused upon the “magic number four” … four runs and you should most often win a game. Examining that theme is a topic I’d like to take on another day, but breaking down the 55 losses gives us the following …  

Orioles scoring four or more runs – 14

Orioles scoring three or less runs – 41

On the other hand, how many of the 73 Orioles wins were powered by the Birds scoring five or more runs when the O’s pitchers gave up at least four runs? The answer is 17, and the last time that happened was in a 12-inning game on July 29th.

The truth is that, apart from the league-leading home run total, the legend of the over-powering Orioles offense is a myth, one that preceded the loss of two regular players (though that does not help matters at all). They are #7 in the American League in batting average, 8th in runs scored, 11th in doubles, 14th in walks, and dead last by a mile in stolen bases. Jose Altuve has 15 more stolen bases than the entire Baltimore Orioles roster; Jacoby Ellsbury individually has three more.

But the counter argument to all of this is that the Orioles have a six-game lead in the AL East on August 25th. And that carries a lot of weight, even as we also note that the current record of 73-55 would have had them 7.0 games out of first place on this date last year, 3.5 out in 2012, and 5.5 behind in 2011.

But here is some good news to counter the gloomy mood after getting swept by the Chicago Cubs, the Baltimore Orioles come home for a three-team homestand, and 21 of the remaining 34 games are at Camden Yards. There’s nothing to worry about, right?

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