The Orioles lost on opening day at Yankee Stadium. But they followed that up with a four-game win streak, matching their longest streak from all of last year. But since that run, the Orioles have now lost seven of eight games.
During this 1-7 stretch, the Orioles have lost by scores of 15-3, 13-2 and 10-3. They have been outscored 69-36 in those eight games. They just completed a 1-6 homestand in which they gave up 28 homers and 64 runs. O’s pitchers lead the majors in homers allowed with 37 in 13 games.
So do O’s pitchers just never get away with a mistake or do they simply make too many of them? Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between, but the Orioles’ pitching has to solve this or at least slow the flow of the longballs. Oakland hit five each of the last two games, becoming the first team to hit five or more in back-to-back games since the Orioles did it versus Houston on Aug. 18-19, 2016.
When manager Brandon Hyde and his team got on the plane to Boston last night, no doubt they were reeling a bit and a rookie manager is getting a real test now in how he keeps this team together. The offense is not consistently producing runs, the pitchers are giving up too many and everyone seems to want to talk about Chris Davis 24-7.
Somehow Hyde needs to remind his players what they did to get off to a 4-2 start in New York and Toronto. They played solid defense, played with enthusiasm, ran the bases well using their speed and made fundamental plays. They played with some fire and passion, and they have to find a way to maintain that now during a time when they have one win since April 3.
The Red Sox began last night even worse off than the Orioles, with a record of 3-9. They went 1-3 at Seattle, 1-3 at Oakland and 1-2 in Arizona. Boston lost 7-5 to Toronto on Tuesday night in their home opener and began last night in last place in the American League East. They entered Thursday’s games with a team ERA of 6.35 to rank 13th in the American League, and a rotation ERA of 8.78 that ranked last in the AL.
Davis went 0-for-3 with a walk in yesterday’s game at Camden Yards. He is now 0-for-32 this year and is 0-for-53 since he last had a hit, on Sept. 14. Davis is now hitless in a record 61 consecutive plate appearances.
Yet the small crowds during the Oakland series cheered and encouraged him. It was a change from the boos he heard during the series with the Yankees.
“It’s awesome,” Davis said. “I appreciate it so much. Really the last few nights, just the encouraging yells and shouts throughout the game and I know they’re behind me. I know the people that boo aren’t the majority, and I really appreciate the fans showing up and backing me.”
Davis has received a raft of deserved criticism on talk shows and message boards, and this was a nice change. Will it help in any way? Maybe. But it just shows that Baltimore fans have a collective heart and it’s just often very different here than in other cities. I think it makes Baltimore stand out.
As for Davis’ continued struggles, which have become a national story, he did hit that line out to center at 105 mph in the second inning, and a groundout at 97 mph in the fourth. He and Hyde sense some progress.
I think the Orioles need to give Davis more time to see if they can get his bat going. Those who don’t think he’ll ever hit well again have plenty of reasons to think that. But those who saw some encouraging signs in recent games have a point as well.
I just don’t see the new front office looking to do anything but keep Davis on the roster for the foreseeable future. Can they help him? Will he ever hit consistently again? Maybe not. But he’s only had 32 at-bats since this group took over.
Meanwhile, right-hander Dylan Bundy had two very different starts within one outing yesterday. In the first three innings, the A’s went 0-for-10 against him with five strikeouts, and they swung and missed on five of his 11 sliders. After that, they went 7-for-12 with four home runs.
What changed so dramatically?
I wish I knew, but Bundy gave up homers that hit 101, 105, 108 and 110 mph. In three starts he’s allowed six homers in 12 1/3 innings with an ERA of 8.76. This is the same pitcher who had a 3.75 ERA at the end of June last season.
As with Davis, the Orioles have to be puzzled by Bundy. His stuff looked great for three innings yesterday, and then it was gone. For now they need to keep sending him out there and see if he can turn this around and/or whether their new analytics or new pitching coach Doug Brocail can get his season trending in a better direction.