For the Orioles, a fall to third place has been a team effort

When the Orioles’ seven-game losing streak began, they were leading the American League East by a half-game over the New York Yankees team they face today at Camden Yards. Now, seven losses later, they are just two games over .500 and 4 1/2 games out.

That happened fast.

The Orioles are in third place, just a half-game ahead of fourth-place Tampa Bay and three up on last-place Toronto. Going first to worst is not a good look and the Orioles have to turn this around sometime. It’s still May and it can’t last for the next 114 games, even if it feels like it will.

They have gone from the best record in the major leagues when they were 22-10 on May 9 to 3-13 since then. Now they play seven straight versus the Yankees and Red Sox and, yes, this would be about the best time to turn it around. The Orioles actually have a solid record in American League East games at 17-10 (.630). They have a losing record at 8-13 (.381) in all other games.

Losing 13 of 16 has been a team effort. They’ve lost plenty of close games, had short outings by starters, blown leads by the rotation and bullpen, and a lack of offense from a homer-happy lineup. Putting it all together - heck, putting anything together lately - has been very challenging,

davis-watching-homer-at-royals-sidebar.pngRight now, topic one in Birdland is first baseman Chris Davis. His strikeouts, especially called third strikes, have been a topic of major angst and frustration among the fanbase. A fanbase featuring some that realize this slump will pass at some point, but also featuring some angry fan frustration toward Davis that can lead to ugly words and a very nasty tone. Some of it goes way past an appropriate point of frustration.

But back to actual baseball.

Davis is in a terrible slump. He is 3-for-38 over his past nine games with 20 strikeouts. Right before this stretch, he homered five times in five games. So, yeah, pretty streaky, which we have seen often in his career. With his big contract, he’s a high-profile player and he is the player getting crushed by the fans now.

But the middle of the order has underperformed this year. If we look at Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo, we can also see both need to pick it up with the bat.

Comparing each player in the OPS stat from 2016 to 2017, Machado has fallen 136 points (.876 to .740) and Trumbo has fallen 134 points (.850 to .716). Davis has actually gained one point (.792 to .793). Davis is capable of much better, so he doesn’t get a pass for that. But the first two players are way down from a year ago.

Machado came up with three doubles over the weekend and maybe his bat will finally start to get going. He’s batting .220 after hitting .294 last season. Trumbo homered yesterday and is hitting .317 with an .872 OPS in May. The uptick may have already started.

Davis looks real bad up there right now and the fan frustration and venting has mostly been directed at him. But in falling to third place, the Orioles have been bad as a team - and in many different aspects. We even saw infield defense be an issue recently when Jonathan Schoop made key errors costing the team runs.

At some point, the middle of the order will get it going, more homers will be hit and more wins will be in the offing. But until then, the Orioles look real bad. The whole team, even if one player is getting most of the attention.

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