Humor me for a minute and let us get in the “Delorean” like the Kevin Plank of BSR @zamwi would say.
Let’s take it back to May 1st where the Baltimore Orioles were about to embark on a 30-games in 31-day journey. On that night, the Orioles swept a doubleheader from the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates, which was culminated by a walk-off home run by red-hot hitting (at the time) Matt Wieters. My boy, Tommy Hunter, got the win in that one and even saved the first game of the twin-bill.
All was right in Birdville that night.
That’s because it looked like the O’s were about to take advantage of the softest part of their schedule and at the very least put themselves in an advantageous position in a very winnable AL East division. Heck, 17-20 wins wasn’t out of the realm of possibility as they had the Astros seven times, the Twins for three, and the Indians for four at OPACY to name a few. So what happened?
Well since you/I asked, here’s my hypothesis on why it is the team has only won 14 of 27 so far going into a four-game series in Houston.
One, the aforementioned Wieters was placed on the DL back on May 5 with no official timetable of a return noted. Many observers of this team expect the All-Star catcher to have the hipster of all baseball surgeries, Tommy John. Wiet’s was having his best offensive start in his career to a season when the injury occurred and subsequently the Orioles had to trade for catcher (Nick Hundley).
Another problem was the closer situation which has been taken over by lefty Zach Britton due to Hunter’s inconsistencies and inabilities to post a single, clean inning. Putting my “respect the fart” bias aside, this move might be looked back on later in the season as one of the best decisions the club could have made. Because after 2013’s roller coaster ride with former closer Jim Johnson, this 2014 team didn’t deserve Buck’s loyalty card to play out any further.
And as if this inconsistent team to date didn’t have enough things to worry about, let’s just say the “front line” starting pitching hasn’t exactly panned out as planned. Offseason signing, Ubaldo Jimenez, was much better in May than he was in April. But that is like saying it’s much hotter in August in the Charm City than it is in February. He had to be better as his April 6.59 ERA was pathetic and he 0-4 to boot. In his 6 starts in May, Jimenez was 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA. Not exactly Sonny Gray.
His running mate, Chris Tillman, started the season off great in April going 3-1 with a moderate 3.67 ERA in five starts. But unlike Jimenez, May wasn’t Tilly’s month as he has posted a 1-1, 6.61 ERA and has lost at least 3,4 MPH off his fastball since Opening Day. In his last two starts, the Orioles “ace” has given up eight and six ER’s respectively. In my opinion, I think the guy is nursing some type of injury. But it’s not like the Orioles have anyone who could fill his spot in the rotation if he did miss a couple starts…anyone..Kevin Gausman..anyone?
And where in the H-E double hockey sticks would this team be without the services of the $8 million man Nelson Cruz? In just the month of May, Cruz has hit .324, with 12 big fly’s and 23 RBI’s with an absurd .723 SLG%. And it’s not like he’s just stat compiling as most of his HR’s have come in meaningful spots for the good guys. He’s “projected” for 60 bombs this year at this pace, but even if he comes up short of that cartoon-type number, he will be getting paid this offseason. And probably not by a 85-year-old Greek baseball owner.
My point of all this useless rhetoric is to point out another missed opportunity by my baseball club. That “window of opportunity” cliche is thrown around like a Lacrosse ball, but I think it applies to this team this season and next. The Red Sox and Yankees aren’t going to be “down” for too long. The Rays might move David Price at the trade deadline and the freaking BJays are playing way above their pay-grade to date. This division is as winnable as it’s ever going to be and the Orioles have a team that is capable of winning it.
But winning only half of your games in the softest part of your schedule will be looked back upon as a wasted opportunity if they come up short (again) in September. If that does happen, we will look back on this month as “what could have been instead of what should have been”, and I for one will salty about it. You?