The challenge for the Orioles is daunting. There is nothing new in that regard.
But as all teams get deep into the tough dog days of August, a non-contending team on a long losing streak faces more challenges than most. That is where the Orioles reside these days.
After last night’s 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay, they have lost 14 in a row by a combined 131-40 score. They are 0-6 on the road trip to Boston and St. Petersburg, Fla., and have been outscored 57-11 with losses by 8-1, 16-2 and 10-0.
To say the Orioles are struggling is a bit of an understatement.
Into that challenge every day steps manager Brandon Hyde trying to keep his team upbeat and his players motivated.
“All these guys have something to play for and they’ve been reminded of that and we’ve talked about it,” Hyde said before Wednesday night’s game. “For a variety of reasons - financial, roster, just to get an invite next year, stick on a 40-man throughout the winter. There’s a lot of reasons to - they have a lot to play for these last 40 games. I think our players are very aware of that. I don’t sense any quit. I don’t think you’re going to see any quit here the last month-plus. Just because there are so many guys in there, everybody in there has something to play for toward the end of the year.”
I asked Hyde if this is the most challenging stretch of the year and if there is anything new or different the coaching staff can try to do to help the players.
“Well, I think our staff has been really consistent,” said Hyde. “I think our players would let you know our staff is extremely positive, we’re extremely honest also. We do hold guys accountable. But there is a lot of work. Our job hasn’t changed. In that, we come to the ballpark everyday with the mindset of getting our players better, to improve, trying to win a game that night. We’re not going to change our mindset as coaches.
“We like our players a lot. And we want to make sure they are in a position to have success and try to help them out. Like I said before, these guys have a lot to play for, for all different sorts of reasons. And you know, it’s our job to make sure they are as prepared as possible and we’re never going to change that.”
The Orioles went from 10-6 coming out of the break to 10-20.
Baltimore starting pitchers had a recent stretch where they went six innings or more nine times in a 19-game stretch. But now they have gone nine games in a row, throwing five innings or less with an ERA 10.90.
Their batters are 3-for-21 in this series with runners in scoring position and 6-for-67 over the past nine games.
So the issues are numerous and everywhere. Players are banged-up and Trey Mancini didn’t even play last night.
On the plus side, center fielder Cedric Mullins just keeps hitting. His leadoff homer last night was his team-leading 21st. The Orioles have six leadoff homers this season - all by Mullins, who has nine career leadoff home runs. His six this year are tied for the third-most in the majors.
The home run was Mullins’ first career homer on an 0-2 pitch and the Orioles’ first leadoff homer on 0-2 count since Seth Smith on July 7, 2017 at Minnesota.
Ryan Mountcastle extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games with a home run in the eighth inning. He is batting .444/.462/.889 (16-for-36) with four homers and nine RBIs in that span. He became the eighth Orioles rookie with 20 homers and the first since Trey Mancini in 2017.
New top 100: MLBPipeline.com rolled out a new top 100 prospects list last night and the Orioles have five in the top 83 and two players in the top eight of that list. Adley Rutschman is ranked No. 1 with Grayson Rodriguez No. 8, DL Hall No. 78, Gunnar Henderson No. 80 and Colton Cowser No. 83.
Delmarva wins again: The low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds beat Fredericksburg 3-1 last night as their new-look roster filled with 2021 draft picks is now 2-0.
Catcher Connor Pavalony, who drove in four runs Tuesday night, drew a bases-loaded walk last night and shortstop Darrell Hernaiz produced a two-run single. Top pick Cowser went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk and run scored.