The Orioles were a team looking for a fresh start and the clean slate that the beginning of the second half presented. A chance to try and get back to .500 and back into serious playoff contention.
Then they rallied from 8-0 down to tie the Cubs late on Friday night. But a ninth inning loss there just led to a pair of weekend blowout losses. The Orioles lost 8-0 today to the Cubs at Oriole Park and got swept three straight.
So much for a fresh start and so much for a turnaround by the starting rotation. It got worse, not better. Also in need of a fresh start, the defending champion Cubs scored 27 runs in the sweep to improve to 46-45.
O’s starter Ubaldo Jiménez pitched a scoreless first on 16 pitches. Then three straight doubles started the Chicago second and the Cubs produced a 4-0 lead that would not be challenged today.
Jiménez allowed six runs and 11 hits (one off his career-high) over 3 2/3 innings and 80 pitches. It was the O’s 10th straight game without a quality start.
“I was able to get ahead, but couldn’t put them away,” said Jiménez, who is now 4-5 with an ERA of 7.01. “They took a good approach, taking the ball to the opposite field. By the time we figured it out it was too late. They had already scored three or four runs.”
Jiménez was asked with each poor outing by the rotation if the next guy just has more pressure to produce something positive.
“I think everyone wants to do the job,” he said. “I don’t think you are going to get more pressure. Every five days you want to go out there and be there for the team. We all know how things are going right now but I don’t think there is any more pressure than we already have. It is disappointing, there is no question about it. But this is baseball. We need to figure it out and get ready for tomorrow.”
The updated numbers on the Orioles rotation are these: Just five quality starts in the last 36 games with an ERA of 8.52 in that span. O’s starters have pitched fewer than six innings in 28 of the last 32 games.
First baseman Chris Davis on the rotation: “None of these guys in here want to go out and perform poorly and everybody in here holds themselves accountable and holds themselves to high standards. You can see it on their faces. You can see it in the body language, and the frustration. You feel for them. At the same time, you’ve got to start making adjustments.”
For Davis and the Orioles, it is a deflating start to the second half. They fell behind 8-0 in the third on Friday, 7-0 in the fifth last night and 6-0 in the fourth inning today.
“It’s tough,” Davis said. “Obviously as an offense, you’d like to go up there and strike the first blow. I think we showed the first night we had the capability to come back and keep ourselves in these games by swinging the bats. That’s a good team over there. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘We did a bunch of things wrong.’ We obviously didn’t play well. They did pretty much everything right.
“I think you’ve got to put it behind you. With the second half starting and us having the long homestand, we want to get started on the right foot, but that didn’t happen. We still have a lot of games left to play, and this homestand is still big. I think it’s big for us to bounce back against the Rangers. Get a nice, comfortable win if there’s such a thing.”
At 42-49, the Orioles have fallen a season-high seven games under .500. They are 1-7 in the last eight home games. Today they were shutout for the seventh time and swept in a series for the eighth time.
You would not expect the players to be giving up on the season with so many games left and Davis said they are not.
“If I didn’t think we could come back, there would be no point for us to come in here. It doesn’t make things easier when you’re down. That’s part of it. We just have to keep getting after them,” Davis said.