The Baltimore Orioles were constructed to be a team built around offense, and when that fails, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the pitching is.
For those who read my pieces, you know that when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles, it is always about the starting pitching.
And, that remains true.
When the team is down by three runs or more in the first few innings, it is demoralizing and makes it hard to come back.
However, the Baltimore Orioles’ offense is not getting it done. Period.
The Baltimore Orioles are 40-44, the team’s worst record in several years.
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In 44 of those games, the Orioles have scored three runs or less. The Orioles are 10-34 in those games because the starting pitching isn’t good enough to hold the opposition to just a few runs. Nor should they be.
That’s not a high standard. I’ve seen fans who over the past few years feel like if the Orioles scored five or more runs, they would win.
Well, it is no wonder the team has a losing record.
I understand Chris Davis is hurt, but he wasn’t exactly lighting up the stat sheet when he was on the field.
Manny Machado has not been good.
Adam Jones has offensively been largely the same player.
When you have a spot starter who allows four runs, your finally healthy bullpen keeps the other team scoreless, and you are facing Matt Garza, you would think you should have a good chance of winning, right?
No. The Orioles didn’t score off Garza (on any other earned runs of Milwaukee’s starting pitchers) and lost 4-0.
Adam Jones said last night it isn’t due to lack of effort, and I agree. These guys are trying their best, but it isn’t working.
Bad luck, bad fundamentals, no luck, blame it all.
So, what can be done? Well, that is one place where there is good news.
The Orioles are only four games below .500. Only four games behind the second wild card (Kansas City, who looked dead early in the season like the Orioles do now) and only four and a half games behind the first wild card. That belongs to the New York Yankees, who were once the crown jewel of baseball.
The Boston Red Sox have the division lead, and with their pitching, I don’t seem them giving it up.
Possibly of more impact, the Baltimore Orioles have five teams ahead of them for the second wild card and only four teams behind them for last in the American League. In fact, the Orioles are closest to worst in the AL (3.5 games) than they are a playoff spot.
That is not a good place to be for a team that is supposed to be making a playoff run. It is also not a good place to be for a team that is expected to be buyers at the MLB trade deadline.
So, a few scenarios can happen moving forward after the much needed All-Star break.
First, the break allows the team to rest, refocus and prepare for the second half. It also will enable Davis and Ryan Flaherty to move closer to returning. The pitching pulls it together, and there are signs that Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman are doing this, the offense starts hitting home runs like they are capable of and Machado breaks out of his slump.
Second, it doesn’t make a difference. The pitching isn’t good enough, Machado can’t find his way out of the slump he is in, and the home run binge never comes.
In one scenario, the team will be in the thick of playoff contention through the season’s final weeks. I still don’t know if the team is capable of playing into a playoff spot, but a lot can change in a few weeks with the second wild card.
In the other, if the Orioles continue to drop like a rock, they have to consider trading some of the players to help their nakedly thin minor league teams.
Maybe it is a full fire sale, with Machado, Zach Britton and more being moved.
Or, perhaps it is more subdued, trading guys like Tillman or Wade Miley to teams that need veteran pitching for the stretch run (Colorado).
The Orioles are in for an interesting July, either as the on-field play dramatically improves, or to see what happens off the field.
But it isn’t just about the starting pitching right now. The offense HAS to be better.