We all knew the win streak would end sooner or later, however we had hoped some consistency would remain.
Unfortunately this has not been the case with the Orioles these past five days, slumping to three frustrating losses, and only winning two games dramatically in extra innings which could’ve easily gone the other way.
First came a blown 5-2 lead after four innings on Thursday night, before another frustrating 7-2 loss on Saturday night where the team continually wasted its opportunities. Sandwiched between the losses were two dramatic walk-off wins in extra innings, ensuring a split series against the lowly Blue Jays. Today’s 7-4 loss in the series opening against the Yankees, where they again blew a lead (this time 3-0 after three), added to the frustrations.
Over the five game stretch the O’s have out-hit their opponents 55-41, yet have been out-scored 20-29. Combined, the offense has left 43 men on base, largely due to the horrendous 7-for-53 (.132) with runners in scoring position. Take out the 5-for-16 in the series opener against the Jays, and that mark drops to 2-for-37 (.054). The long ball has remained, with the O’s slugging nine in the past five games, however the strikeouts have returned at an alarming rate – 50 in total during this stretch.
Quite simply, the opportunities are being created, however the situation hitting has bombed out. Dramatically.
On the pitching front, Buck Showalter’s staff has issued 27 walks, including 10 on Monday. Of those 10 issued to the Yankees lineup, three scored in what ultimately proved to be a three-run game. To say they proved costly is an understatement. Also on the pitching front, the bullpen – which was so impressive during the week-long win streak to end August – has since struggled. Combined they’ve leaked 12 runs over the five game stretch, with the typically reliable Richard Bleier, Mychal Givens, and Miguel Castro being three of the culprits. Richard Rodriguez, who if we were to be completely honest never should have pitched when he did on Saturday night, was the other.
Somewhat thankfully, other teams bidding for the second American League wildcard have also been plagued by inconsistency – most notably the Twins. As it currently stands, with 24 games remaining the O’s find themselves just 1.5 games back still, so they’re within striking distance.
The next two games are crucial. They must beat the Yankees and finish the homestand on a brighter note and head away with some momentum in the engine once again. A difficult 10-game road trip through Cleveland (3), Toronto (3), and New York (4) awaits and no doubt will ultimately prove to be season-defining.
Will the team make the playoffs? I think we’ll know by the time they return home on September 18.