Now that Mike Elias and Sig Mejdal have come from the Houston Astros to the Orioles, O’s fans are wondering and of course hoping the two can take some of what worked there and make it work here.
Maybe even more so after last night’s 23-2 loss to Houston. The Orioles suffered their most lopsided loss of the year, allowing season highs in runs and hits. It was just the fourth time in team history they’ve allowed 23 or more runs in a game.
Houston lost 106 or more games every year from 2011 to 2013. In 2017, they won 101 games and the World Series. In 2018 they won 103 and this year they are on a 106-win pace.
The last team to win 100 or more three straight years is the Yankees from 2002-2004. Since 1972, the Atlanta Braves are the only other club to reach 100 wins in three straight seasons from 1997-1999.
The team that did it before that was the Orioles, with 109 victories in 1969, 108 in 1970 and 101 in 1971.
I asked manager Brandon Hyde before Saturday’s blowout just what are the best aspects of Houston’s rebuild that the Orioles can try to take from them.
“Well we took Mike and Sig from them. That’s a great start,” Hyde said. “As we get further along, I think you are going to see Mike and Sig’s fingerprints really a lot heavier into the way this team is formed and information is gathered and shared. Everything.
“We got here in December and it’s not that easy. There are departments starting to develop. You look at Houston now compared to ‘13 or ‘14, that team is super athletic. That team is incredibly athletic. They have a ton of power arms in the back of the bullpen. Obviously, they have one of the best rotations in baseball. But just look around the field, it’s guys that really control the strike zone, that don’t chase. That are able to hit the ball out of the ballpark and walk. Really, really tough outs, that do not chase out of the strike zone and can hurt you with damage.”
And the Astros make pitchers better on their watch. Gerrit Cole was pretty good for five years with Pittsburgh. He went 59-42 with an ERA of 3.50 and 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings. With Houston he has gone 29-10 with an ERA of 2.87 and 12.7 strikeouts per nine.
How does that happen?
“Because of the information that they are giving them,” Hyde said. “And what works for them. I had Héctor Rondón (with the Cubs) from ‘14 through ‘16. He was our closer for the majority of the three years there. Héctor was 95-97 (mph) with a good slider. Was a big part of our Championship Series team in ‘15 and World Series team in ‘16.
“Goes there and he’s throwing even harder. Think he’s throwing his four-seamer a little more. So, they really just limited some of stuff he was doing and just focused on his strengths and now you see his stuff tick up.”
That wouldn’t be a bad blueprint for future O’s teams. Athletic position players who can walk and hit homers, and the acquisition of good pitchers that they can make even better with a flame-throwing bullpen.
About last night: So the Orioles got hammered last night and they are now 0-5 in a stretch of 10 straight games against the Yankees and Astros. The O’s have been outscored in those games 58-16. The team ERA is 11.00 in this span where O’s pitchers have allowed 22 homers. The rotation ERA is 9.70 in those games and the bullpen ERA is 12.17.
The four times the O’s have allowed 23 or more runs:
* On June 26, 1978 they lost 24-10 at Toronto.
* On April 19, 1996 they lost 26-7 at Texas.
* On August 22, 2007 they lost 30-3 to Texas.
* On August 10, 2019 they lost 23-2 to Houston.
The Orioles’ Trey Mancini said even an outmanned and rebuilding O’s team cannot accept that losses like last night will happen.
“That really can’t be a mindset,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot more than we’ve won the last couple of years. We’ve had flashes of some good times this year, such as July, it looked like things were trending up. August has obviously gotten off to a tough start. This is a big boy league. We’ve played some really good teams so far. This hasn’t been a good homestand for us, but that’s a loser’s mentality right there to think you’re going to take a beating, so you can’t come to the park expecting that.”
And he said the team has to stay upbeat, after losing by 21 runs.
“It can be tough. It’s been a tough homestand, but that’s our job. You’ve got to come the next day and no matter what happened the day before, you never know what could happen the next day. For example, we had a good game yesterday, almost won. Today, we obviously had an embarrassing loss, and tomorrow’s a new day, and you never know what can happen. Hopefully, we play a little more like we did yesterday than we did today. Hopefully, that’s got to be your mindset or else you’re going to keep getting pounded,” he said.
On the farm last night, Single-A Delmarva right-hander Grayson Rodriguez threw five no-hit innings with 10 strikeouts as the Shorebirds beat Kannapolis 5-1. He touched 99 mph on the Perdue Stadium radar gun and for the year he is now 9-3 with an ERA of 2.69.
Short-season Single-A Aberdeen won via a walk-off hit by Adley Rutschman in the last of the ninth. Rutschman, taken No. 1 in the draft by the Orioles in June, went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in the IronBirds’ win.