April has been dreadful for Orioles, but all hope is not lost

The Orioles are having a miserable April, and while they are going to spend the next five months digging out, there’s a chance - a slim one - that they could make the postseason or at least be a wild card contender.

It’s been done before.

Check out Dan Duquette’s 1996 Boston Red Sox, who started by losing 15 of 18 to bring newspaper headlines that compared them to the 1932 Red Sox, losers of 111 games.

It might have been the earliest in a season Red Sox fans worried about the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox pitching staff was piling up walks, the defense was porous, the offense nearly non-existent.

The debate was whether pitcher Roger Clemens, a potential free agent after the season, was going to skip town. He had a 3.63 ERA, the only starter on the team that finished with an ERA under 5.00.

But the Red Sox somehow managed to get back into the race.

Boston had 22 wins in August and 16 in September to get back into contention.

The Red Sox were 17 games out of first in the American League East on Aug. 1. They finished third with 85 wins, seven games out and three games behind the Orioles for a wild card.

The wild card era, which was supposed to start in 1994 but was delayed a year by labor strife that cancelled the conclusion of the season, was designed for teams such as the Orioles, who have the makings of a strong rotation that can carry a team and erase a bad start.

Here’s a look at teams that had a bad start, but were smiling the final month:

2001 Oakland Athletics: The A’s started 8-17 and trailed by 12 games in the AL West when April ended. They wound up winning 102 games and made the postseason as a wild card. Seattle was division champ with 116 wins. The A’s big four in the rotation were the key: Tim Hudson (3.37 ERA), Mark Mulder (3.45 ERA), Barry Zito (3.49 ERA) and Cory Lidle (3.39 ER). The Yankees beat Oakland in the AL Division Series and Seattle for the pennant.

2006 Minnesota Twins: The Twins started 9-15 and were 12 1/2 games out in the AL Central on May 27. But they finished with 96 victories. They won the division by one game, their biggest lead, and were swept by the Yankees in the postseason. Their two best pitchers were lefties Johan Santana (2.77 ERA) and Francisco Liriano (2.16 ERA) and their two best bats were lefties as well, Joe Mauer (.347 with a .427 on-base percentage) and Justin Morneau, who hit .321-34-120.

2006 San Diego Padres: The Padres started slow and never did get on a roll in the weak National League West, but it didn’t matter. They were never more than 5 1/2 games out of first place. They were a .500 team in July and were two under in August before they finished 20-9 to tie the Dodgers and win the crown because they had a winning record against the Dodgers during the regular season. The 88-win Padres lost to the Cardinals in the postseason.

2007 New York Yankees: The Yankees ended April with nine wins and were 14 1/2 games out in the AL East on May 29. They won 19, 18 and 19 games in each of the last three months, winning the wild card and losing to Cleveland in the first round. The Yankees’ best pitcher was Chien-Ming Wang with a 3.70 ERA. Alex Rodriguez hit 54 home runs. Jorge Posada hit .338 and Derek Jeter .322.

2007 Colorado Rockies: The Rockies had 10 wins at the end of April and were buried in the NL West, but they managed to get to their first World Series via the wild card. They were 76-72 on Sept. 16 and won 14 of their final 15 games to make October. They beat San Diego 9-8 in 13 innings in a one-game playoff and swept two playoff series, meaning they had won 21 of 22 games going into the World Series, which they lost to Boston in a sweep.