The Orioles went 0-4 over the weekend versus Boston and fell to 49 games under .500 at 35-84 after Sunday’s loss. Boston completed the four-game sweep, but not everything from the weekend was a downer.
Looking back at the weekend:
Mullins arrives: The Orioles finally called up Cedric Mullins and we had a changing of the guard in the outfield. Mullins took over in center and Adam Jones moved to right. Jones not only welcomed Mullins with open arms and was happy to turn over center field to him, but he let Mullins lead the team onto the field in his first game on Friday night. Yep, he made his path easier. That’s leadership.
Left fielder Trey Mancini said: “To move over for a kid coming up, I think maybe Adam sees himself coming up back in the day and he wants to give Cedric the same treatment that he got. It is refreshing to see. Hard for me to say I’ve been more honored to play with anyone more than Adam.”
The Orioles’ outfield defense got better in two spots. Mullins brings more speed to center and Jones is an upgrade over what the Orioles have been doing in right field for most of this year. Mullins made a nice running catch in the gap in right-center in the third inning yesterday and we can expect to see much more of that. He also went 5-for-13 (.385) in the series.
Mullins has hit seventh, eighth and ninth so far. Maybe the Orioles should wait no longer and just move him up to the leadoff spot now. They could bat Mullins and Jonathan Villar at the top of the lineup and watch that speed create havoc on the bases. It would be a nice start toward transforming an offense into one with less power but more speed and the ability to do more things.
Cobb continues to pitch well: Right-hander Alex Cobb pitched very well Sunday in a loss, allowing two runs (one earned) over seven innings to the Red Sox, but he took another defeat to fall to 3-15. But Cobb’s ERA is down to 5.31, the lowest it has been all year. He’s been throwing his splitter about 35 or 40 percent of the time in recent games and it’s back as a plus pitch for him. That is no small development.
Cobb has allowed exactly one earned run in four of his past five starts. He has quality starts in five of his last six games, pitching to an ERA of 2.17 in that span. He finally looks like the pitcher the Orioles hoped they were getting. He may be becoming the ace of this staff before our eyes.
“Through all of this season, there were obviously a lot of challenges early on, but every single day, I’ve come and tried to give it everything I have to get better and keep progressing,” he said. “It’s just something that has taken some time. It’s still taking time. I’ve had a lot better results of late, but there’s still fine-tuning I can do. There are still things I can do to be more consistent and have better command of the pitches.
“It’s not a one-moment thing that I can give you. It’s not that one thing clicked. It’s every day, letting the mind and body sync up, figuring out the right arm path and taking all the information every single day that you put out there. Whether playing catch or throwing a bullpen, you’re always getting information back with what the ball is doing. You try to take that and build on it each day and get back to form.”
The difference between two teams: Yes the gap between the Orioles and Red Sox is vast. We can see it on the field and we sure as heck can see it in the standings. It is probably hard to recall this now, but between 2012 and 2017, the Orioles won the season series from Boston in five of those six years, including last year when they went 10-9. In those years, the Orioles were 64-49 (.566) against the Red Sox. This year they are 2-14. It was clearly a have playing a have not over the weekend.
“That’s a World Series-contending team right there,” said Cobb. “They’re built to win it this year. We just went through a major overhaul of transforming this into something that it was two months ago into what it is now. We know that there’s going to be growing pains that are going to come with our season this year and possibly into next season and after the year after that maybe. We know there’s a lot of work that we need to do. Our goal is to end up having teams feel like we did after this series when we leave their town. We need to do a lot. We need to do every aspect of the game better. That progression starts now.”
Tim Beckham added his thoughts: “That’s a good ballclub, you know? We come out and we expect to win. (Chris) Sale had his good stuff. It’s a grind. The whole season has been a grind. Only thing we can do is take it one day at a time and one game at a time. Overall, the past couple of weeks, I think we have a good ballclub. We have a very athletic ballclub and a bit more speed now. We just want to continue to get on base and continue to capitalize with runners in scoring position.”