The Orioles played their 100th game Wednesday, losing to the Colorado Rockies, 3-1.
With 62 games remaining, the Orioles are 58-42 – that’s a pace for 94 wins, which would be their second most since 1997. They were 51-49 at the 100-game mark last year. They were 55-45 in 2014, when they won the division with 96 victories.
These Orioles are in first place by two games over the Toronto Blue Jays – who they face for three this weekend in Toronto – and 2 ½ over the Boston Red Sox.
These Orioles are flawed, and they may not be able to fill their needs – specifically starting pitching, a left-handed reliever and a fourth outfielder with on-base capabilities – by Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The Red Sox and Blue Jays are probably in better position to make a run in the next 62 games. But those clubs are flawed too. And, frankly, if I told you that the Orioles would still be in first place after 100 games many of you would have – as manager Buck Showalter likes to say – signed up in blood.
Go for a difference-maker?
There’s a whole lot of talk going on as Monday’s deadline approaches. You have to read between the lines. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette isn’t sharing that information.
And Showalter isn’t really either. Asked about his take on this week, Showalter said he refuses to publicly ask for additions because he wants the current players on the roster to know he believes in them. Besides, Showalter said he understands you have to give up something of quality to get something in return.
“Dan has brought a couple things to me, but nothing that seemed imminent,” Showalter said. “A couple of them, ‘Yeah, I like that guy. (But) for what? No, of course we shouldn’t do that.’ You can get a pretty good starting pitcher for ‘blank’ and he’s gone at the end of the year. Dan and the organization have shown we’ll go for it if it’s right, if we think it’s a big difference-maker and really fills a big weakness we think we might have.”
So there’s your non-update update.
Davis drops bunt
Lost in Wednesday’s game, because it had no impact on the end result, was Chris Davis’ bunt single in the first inning.
The Orioles slugger, who was in a 0-for-24 slump, decided to thwart the shift on him – three infielders on the right side — and dropped a bunt towards third base. He made it to first safely, snapping his hitless skid.
People always ask me why guys don’t do that more often.
There are two reasons: One, bunting is a lost art and a lot of big leaguers can’t do it effectively. Two, the biggest pull hitters are often a team’s primary sluggers, and you don’t want to swap a potential weak single for what could be extra bases or a home run. The thought is, don’t take the bat out of a slugger’s hands for any reason.
But Davis is in such a slump that it seemed exceptionally smart to try anything. And it worked, temporarily. He walked in his next at-bat and then struck out in his next two.
Here’s what Showalter said about the bunt: “It’s there to him. We talked to him about it. It’s one thing to do it. It’s another thing to execute it. It’s not easy when a guy’s throwing 96, 97, to step up there and bunt a ball over there. I think a lot depends on the pitcher he’s facing, how he feels against him.”
Worley won’t start in Toronto
Despite pitching well in his last outing, Vance Worley will not get a start this weekend in Toronto and instead will be in the bullpen. The Orioles’ rotation for the next four days is: Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday at Minnesota and Kevin Gausman, Yovani Gallardo and Chris Tillman from Friday to Sunday at Toronto.
There’s an off day Monday and Dylan Bundy could start on five days’ rest against Texas at home Tuesday.
You also have to figure the Orioles could have a new starting pitcher via trade. In that case, Worley definitely would be back in the bullpen.
He obviously wants to start, but he’s been effective in any role the Orioles have asked this season. And it’s likely they’ll keep asking of him as the year progresses.