At The Quarter Pole, The Orioles Are…
As Memorial Day weekend approaches faster than Orioles fans jumping off the Jim Johnson bandwagon, it’s time to step back and see where the black and orange stand. And if I wrote this hack piece just a week ago today, it would surely have been a different tone.
That’s because the Buck-Birds have dropped 5 straight (at home, mind you) and now have to see CC Sabathia and annoying Yankee faithful invade The Yards for a crucial 3-game series. And I hate to use the term crucial about a series in late May, but with what’s been going on of late, it applies like a mug.
But I’m not here to focus on the future, instead I wanted to look back and break down how we got here. After 43 games, the Orioles are sitting at 23-20 and presently 4.0 games behind the aforementioned Yanks. Their 14-9 road record is second only in terms of wins to the Rangers. The problem is they are a pathetic 9-11 at the Yards with series losses to the likes of the Padres and Twins.
The offense has been carrying this team so far this season. And it might have to continue to shine as the starting rotation is been scuffling, to put it mildly. My boy, Chris Tillman, has been the only consistent starter who is not presently on the DL as he logged his sixth straight quality start in the loss yesterday to Matt Moore and the Rays. So that means the offense has to score at least 6+ runs a night to give the team a chance to win and that’s just not fair to put on any team’s hitters.
So what can they do? Well for one get RHP Miguel Gonzalez back in the rotation, which is supposed to happen tomorrow. Next, they need to let Wei-Yin Chen rest that oblique strain as long as he needs and maybe even a week longer. That injury is a nagging one that only rest can heal. As for the other “starters” like Jason Hammel, Sweaty Freddy and Jair Jurrjens, you need to step up or get shipped out. That’s because based on Buck and Dandy Dan’s track record here in the Charm City, if you can’t get outs you get outed to Norfolk. I don’t care who you are (see Jake Arrieta).
And although the starting pitching is the huge wart on the Orioles faces, it’s the smaller pimple at second base that needs to also be addressed. I mean how many mediocre to below average 2-baggers can Buck run out there each night. Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla and now Yamaico Navarro all put together doesn’t even equate to a Major League 2nd basemen. And I know what your thinking, “So you want Chase Utley, right”? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t, but I what I do know is that trio of 4-A players aren’t the answer.
Now I know it seems like I’m trashing the team I shake and stir the orange kool-aid for every night. Maybe it’s just my venom coming through the keyboard for the way they have been playing of late. But that doesn’t take away from how they won 23 games so far this year. Manny Machado at any other position on the field would be a lock All Star. Adam Jones has the best average in the AL with runners in scoring position and has cleaned up his defensive game of late. Chris Davis has stayed fairly consistent especially for as absurdly hot as he was in April. Hell even J.J. Hardy is heating up with the bat and has been a rock in the field. I could go on, but you get the point. The orange sky isn’t falling just yet, Orioles Nation.
Remember, think of the baseball season as a horse race. We are now about 1/4 of the way around the track and the Orioles are positioned in a good spot in the race for the playoffs. The question remains can this horse hang around long enough for the final sprint to the finish? If so, they will need reinforcements at certain positions to make this another magical summer in the Charm City. (See Kevin Gausman)…