There are few things more frustrating to Orioles fans than losses to the New York Yankees. Except maybe blowout losses to that team, and 7-0 last night qualified.
The Orioles were down 5-0 in the third inning and their struggling offense never got anything going. Trey Mancini got two hits and now has 500 for his career. But the rest of the team went 2-for-26 as the Orioles were shut out for the fourth time on the season and the second by New York. Both were 7-0 losses.
The O’s are struggling so much on offense that they have scored just seven runs in their last eight losses. The last two nights, O’s batters were 11-for-63, scoring one run and going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
They are 2-4 against New York, and the four losses have come by a combined 26-3 score.
But while it can feel to the fan base after a tough night that the Orioles are headed for 100 losses, and maybe easily, that is not the case. At least not at the current math. They are 10-14, which is .417 ball and would leave them with a final record of 68-94 at this pace.
Lefty Jordan Montgomery (1-1, 4.57 ERA) shut down the Orioles over six scoreless innings on April 5. But his ERA is 6.32 in his other three starts. So somebody did figure him out, and the Orioles need to do that today. A four-game series split and 3-4 record versus the Yankees would feel and look a lot better than the alternative.
The bullpen keeps it loose and gets outs: Maybe the bullpen that laughs together gets outs together.
The Orioles bullpen has been performing at a high level doing some of the basics that any pitcher needs to do - like throwing consistent quality strikes.
But there is something also at work down there. The bullpen pitchers keep it loose, keep it light, have a great camaraderie and are having fun. And O’s manager Brandon Hyde said a loose player can often contribute to someone being a good player.
“Absolutely. I thought that started last year down there with those guys,” he said before last night’s game. “We started creating an identity a little bit in our bullpen and guys starting pitching better because of it. I think as guys get comfortable in the big leagues and they start having some success, that is when you really start seeing character show. Guys get a little bit looser, little freer to perform. For me, that’s when everybody is at their best. The best teams I’ve been around, it’s the loosest clubhouse, loosest dugout you could possibly imagine.
“You know, you go play Oakland last series, you can see their dugout. It’s a bunch of veteran guys that are, you know, playing the game to win and not worried about anything else, and having fun doing it.
“I think we are on our way to that. Our bullpen is starting to act like that, which is awesome. I want guys to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want guys to be able to feel like that they have the confidence to have success up here. And for me, that’s when you start playing in a more of a relaxed environment and it’s easier to perform. I think we have some characters down in our bullpen, and I know they feed off each other.”
With one run allowed over 4 2/3 innings last night, the Orioles bullpen ERA dropped from 3.00 to 2.95. The O’s ‘pen began last night ranked fifth in both the American League and in the majors in bullpen ERA. The ‘pen has an ERA of 1.55 over the last 11 games.