Tap-In Question: One West Coast city down, what are your initial observations on this trip? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Connolly's Tap Room

Tap-In Question: One West Coast city down, what are your initial observations on this trip?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

So, now what? Same-old, same-old or a revelation?

Any new observations about this Orioles team – and its playoff chances – after one city is down on this 10-game trip?

Maybe this is a little premature – not much of a sample size – but this is what happens in August when you’re a self-proclaimed playoff contender. Every series is worthy of being scrutinized. Therefore, that’s how I’m starting our conversation today in the Tap Room. No deep thinking required. Many of you may be sleep deprived after two late Orioles games in the last three days, anyway. Just a basic, ‘What are ya thinking?’

The Orioles lost the rubber match to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., 5-1, and are two games under .500 again at 56-58.

Now they go to Oakland to play four against an Athletics’ squad that has the second worst record in the American League. The Orioles need to win three there to head into Seattle with more victories than losses on the trip.

I’ve stressed previously how important this 10-game West Coast jaunt is. In my opinion, the Orioles need to be over .500 when they come back to Camden Yards. They need to continue the momentum they had when they left Sunday. They need to keep showing signs of life to justify not breaking up this club last month. At 1-2, the Orioles now have to go 5-2 to escape the west with a winning record. Doable, but not ideal.

Mathematically, I think they are going to be hanging around the Wild Card battle for a while; that is just the way it appears in a race in which no one is running away.

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But, realistically, it’s all about playing well now and beating up on sub-.500 teams before the final month’s gauntlet against the American League East.

These Orioles were outscored 10-9 in the LA series, but plated just three runs in the final two games, ones that were started by Angels’ rookies (including a former Oriole).

My two observations from this series:

The old broken record with this offense: Homer, and score. Don’t homer, and struggle. When they don’t go deep – six of their nine runs came via the home run in this series and four on one swing by Manny Machado on Monday — the offense kicks and sputters. A bad omen if the Orioles reach the postseason again and has to face elite pitching.

Secondly, the Orioles’ starting pitching held its own in the series. And that’s the key this season, of course. Kevin Gausman made a couple mistakes Wednesday, but otherwise did OK.

Now, I want your thoughts about these past three games: Good, bad or still not ready to commit?

Tap-In Question: One West Coast series down, what are your observations about this key road trip so far?

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 10, 2017 at 7:37 am

    For more-than-obvious reasons, I for one am so very relieved that “no deep thinking” is required this morning, or I hope, any other Tap Room session for that matter. hic°

    Of course the obvious observation is that the boys have suddenly stopped scoring runs. Take out Machado’s Grand Salami on Monday, and basically, they’ve been shut out this series. Maybe that’s a product of the park they’re playing in … maybe it’s simply the natural ebb & flow of a 162 game baseball season.

    So .. with absolutely no thought involved, it appears to this observer, that it’s more than a lack of homers (although they had a couple) that plagues us. It just seems to me that the team has stopped letting the ball travel. They’ve stopped raking. And certainly they’ve stopped turning and burning. More importantly, they’ve stopped hitting with RISP, thereby preventing the line from moving. (I hope that covers the bulk of Heidi Watney’s repertoire)

    So, here’s to hoping a Sonny Grayless Oakland Alemeda County Coliseum corrects these issues. hic°

    I agree 100% with you Mr. Connolly, they need to come home over .500.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 9:54 am

      It probably is the ebb and flow. But — like in the past — no homers, no flow is concerning.

  2. Wade Warren

    August 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Orioles left their bats in Baltimore

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Can you drive out to Oakland with a delivery? They need em

    • Wade Warren

      August 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Davis bats are ok like brand new very fre swings used

    • Wade Warren

      August 10, 2017 at 10:56 am

      few swingd

  3. Winger

    August 10, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Why are CrusK n Trumbo still in the 4-5 holes with Boom hitting 6th. He has a good chance hitting following 2 K’s. I don’t get it. Is it time to bench Davis. I say yes.

    2 months ago it was pitching. Maybe pitching was not as bad as we thought but hitting was worse. Don’t have any fancy stats to quote. Just what my eyes tell me.

    Anyway keep up the great writing. CHEERS!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Trumbo’s lineup was particularly odd since he just got back and without any rehab time. I would have given him a day or two a little further back.

  4. OrangeBird21

    August 10, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Let everyone use Beckham’s bat…

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Or hit him all nine times.

  5. Marshall

    August 10, 2017 at 8:54 am

    This lineup should be able to cover Gausman giving up 4. That aside, it’s easy to malign the pitcher when they give up 6 runs as it’s one person. When ALL of the bats go silent at once, it’s so frustrating. The natural inclination is to look for someone to blame. I could understand it when it’s Chris Sale or the like, but against the lower tiered folk…

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Marshall: that’s the key here. These were three inexperienced or unheralded pitchers. You have to make a little noise in two games against pitchers with a combined 10 MLB starts or so under their belts. Drink chip.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        August 10, 2017 at 10:24 am

        Very true Dan … but then again, think about how often the new guy you’ve never seen before stymies you.

  6. Osfan73

    August 10, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Where’s the O in this offense?? It’s here then it’s gone just as quick. Again , I like the occasional shakeup aplied to the lineup, it’s at least something to try especially now when the Os can least afford these prolonged droughts at the plate given the number of games/chances to gain ground dwindling.
    On a lighter note, Chris Davis didn’t strike out in 4 ABs yesterday. I guess that’s something .

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 10, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Baby steps.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 10:00 am

      You guys are again sitting on the bright side of the bar. If you need me, I’ll be on the shadowy end.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    August 10, 2017 at 10:31 am

    They either go 5-5, 4-6 or 6-4. A mediocre record for a mediocre team.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

      You’re bumming me out BanMo.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 10:55 am

      This is what happens when you walk to the other side of the bar, Boog. It’s dark over here.

  8. Os_Skins

    August 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I’ve wondered this the last 2-3 seasons – should the Orioles have different lineups for different ballparks. A hitter-friendly midsummer Camden Yards is ripe for the Os standard lineup, but the bigger, more pitcher-friendly parks that seem to crush the Orioles every West Coast and AL-Central swing may require a more defensive/on-base oriented lineup . The AL East Parks, with the exception of the Trop, could all use the standard OPACY lineup that mashes, but the KC, Oakland, Seattles of the world, may need a more contact-oriented, OBP approach.

    Ideally, at home, without a lot of outfield to cover defensively, and with shorter fences to all fields, your healthy lineup, without scuffling, would look similar to what we saw the last homestand (minus trumbo and his injury):

    1. Jones – CF
    2. Machado – 3B
    3. Schoop – 2B
    4. Davis – 1B
    5. Trumbo – DH
    6. Mancini – LF
    7. Beckham – SS
    8. Smith – RF
    9. Castillo/Joseph
    (Obviously the lineup against RHP)

    But something that may be considered for bigger parks where stringing together more prolonged at bats with a higher OBP and a greater emphasis on defense (both range and speed) would look like this:

    1. Beckham – SS
    2. Smith – LF
    3. Machado – 3B
    4. Schoop – 2B
    5. Jones – CF
    6. Davis/Trumbo – 1B/DH
    7. Mancini – DH/1B
    8. Joseph/Castillo
    9. Rickard/Gentry – RF

    This lineup removes one of the current massive holes of Davis or Trumbo. I lean toward keeping Crush and his 1B defense in.

    The other issue that is noticeable on the road, is that with the current top of the lineup construction, they struggle to get it going the first time through. For whatever reason, it seems this lineup needs an inning or two to get going, and when you have Jones, Machado and Schoop getting up there and going 1-2-3 in the first on 7 pitches, or one of them getting on and then Davis striking out on 4 or 5 pitches, it allows the opposing pitcher to build confidence and it also sets a tone. If you had Smith and Beckham leading into Machado and Schoop, there would be the chance for a more extended top of the first. I like Jones, and really like when the lineup turns over to him later in the game, and I understand that you only lead off once a game, but the throwaway at bats early need to be addressed.

    This is where I am on this team – it is built for Camden Yards, but is in the midst of a crucial road trip that hinges on whether Buck will make the necessary lineup adjustments.

    Last note – I don’t understand the approach the last two days when it came to pulling the starters, I think in at least one of the two games, if not both, the leash needed to be shorter. On Tuesday, Hellickson was rolling through 6, but at the start of the 7th, it was obvious he had used everything he had to get Trout out to end the previous inning. He went back out on 90 pitches, having gone over 100 only twice on the year. Buck needed to have a short leash – if he was going to pull him after Calhoun got on, he should have after Simmons ripped a hanging change. Then yesterday, Gaus had labored through 5, Buck needs to be ready to yank him the second the leadoff guy gets on. The score has to stay 2-1.

    My hope is that Buck’s leashes are a little shorter in Oakland as they really do need to win these games.

    All that said, 6-4 would be OK. No one is really crushing it in the WC race, and you’d go 5-2 against Oakland and Seattle.

    • Raymo

      August 10, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Lots of good food for thought here. Barkeep, bring this man a drink on me.

    • Osfan73

      August 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Good point….A little flexibility from Buck with the lineups now and then would be nice, couldn’t hurt.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Agreed. Nice, detailed post. Makes sense. Two chips. One from the guy down there. One from me.

    • Raymo

      August 10, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Well Dan, it looks like Buck follows this site. Tonight’s lineup against Oakland is eerily similar to the large park lineup suggested above.

    • Mau

      August 13, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Beckham needs to be the leadoff guy henceforth and not just because he is absolutely tearing it up. Speed on the basepath factors in. Mancini needs to rise in the order also. Davis and/ or Trumbo 6/7 and preferably not play at the same time. When the rosters expand Alvarez needs to depose Trumbo. As noted, Davis defense still makes him valuable.
      Beckham
      Mancini
      Schoop
      Machado
      Jones
      After the five spot plug in the holes

  9. Glstem

    August 10, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Oakland has a winning record against the east so orioles will split the series and Seattle won the series last year when Seth smith hit a hrs in 4 games. Oakland will be playing a lot of unknown players because of all the trades but orioles can beat Sandy Koufax it’s the Peter bridwell they cannot beat. 3and 4 will be lucky for them.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 10, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      3-4, so 4-6. And that’s not acceptable at this point, given this upcoming schedule.

  10. Mr Will

    August 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    When are all of the pundits going to realize this is a mediocre team? Bridwell was to be an Os reliever, yet the Angels saw him as a starter. Another example of Oriole blunders in handling of pitchers in the minors. W jave deloped a few good pitchers but used them as trade bait as our minors do not seem to develop pitchers quite as readily as position players.
    Buck has to stop being so loyal to his vets and bat Mancini between Davis and Trumbo or if that does not work do not play more than one of them at a time. Perhaps DL Smith and bring up Alvarez who supposedly is tearing up Norfolk; as the season wears on there will be fewer options
    The Birds future is not now…it will depend on trades made this winter for several marquee players to hopefully change the fortunes of this team..

    • Dan Connolly

      August 11, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Well this pundit had bought into this being a mediocre team. Difference tho is that this pundit think much of the AL is mediocre, too. Which creates the possibility of playoffs.

  11. bv22

    August 10, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    The games have been on too late for me to watch, so I have only heard the scores the next day. I really thought that we’d win the series in Anaheim, and then struggle in Oakland and hopefully split in Seattle. We never do well in Oakland so I don’ t have high hopes that this trip is going to end well since it hasn’t started well. IMO, this is probably the beginning of the end.

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