Orioles continue mediocre play - remain alive in an incredibly mediocre AL Wild Card race - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Orioles continue mediocre play — remain alive in an incredibly mediocre AL Wild Card race

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Two cities down and one to go on this crucial 10-game road trip out west and the Orioles are, well, mediocre.

Get out the magic marker and color yourself surprised.

After losing two of three in Anaheim, Calif., the Orioles split four games with the Oakland Athletics and are now 58-60 heading into a three-game series beginning Monday night at Safeco Field in Seattle.

The Orioles need to sweep the Mariners – who swept the Orioles in four games last season in Seattle – to come back to Camden Yards with a record above .500 on the year.

Even if they win two of three against the stumbling Mariners, the Orioles will still be a game under .500 with 41 to play. And to get to 89 wins – the number it took for the second AL Wild Card spot in 2016 – the Orioles must go 31-13 in their final 44 games – that’s .705 baseball, which the Los Angeles Dodgers have been playing in their potentially historic season.

I know I get branded as negative at times, but the Orioles aren’t playing .700 baseball during the next six weeks. I’ll go on that sturdy limb without hesitation. Even their hot 22-10 start was .688 baseball, and that seems like forever ago.

If you want good news, though, I suppose I can provide a little.

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Right now, the Los Angeles Angels, who hold the second Wild Card, are 61-58 (.513 winning percentage). That’s on pace for about 83 wins. If the Orioles got just a little bit hot, 83 is more than reachable (25-19). And they could help bring the Angels back to reality this upcoming weekend at Camden Yards, where the Orioles are 35-23 (.604 winning percentage).

Also, the Orioles are 5-5 in their last 10, and actually gained ground on three teams ahead of them, the Kansas City Royals, Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays.

That’s pretty hard to do, and what it illustrates is just how mediocre most of these Wild Card “contenders” are. All it takes is for one team to go on a winning streak, and, next thing you know, they are in the driver’s seat.

That’s currently the Angels, who have won five straight – the final two versus the Orioles and a sweep of the Mariners – and have claimed the second Wild Card spot.

The Minnesota Twins traded away their closer, Brandon Kintzler, and solid starter Jaime Garcia at the end of July, and have won eight of their last 10 to be a half game behind the Angels.

So, if you want this glass half-full, the Orioles are still in contention for a playoff spot despite a lackluster West Coast jaunt so far. And none of the teams ahead of them is particularly good.

If you want this glass half-empty, the Orioles are an abysmal 23-37 on the road, and their most optimistic playoff hopes are to get a one-game playoff reprieve away from Camden Yards.

The straight truth is that this entire race is watered down. And the Orioles, like everyone, are, you guessed it, treading water.

It’s disappointing that the Orioles likely return to Baltimore with a sub-.500 record Friday. But, let’s face it, it’s also not shocking.

What’s actually surprising, though, is that the Orioles could have a sub-.500 record Friday and be in roughly the same spot as when they left for the West Coast.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    August 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

    If they go 13-6 in their next 19 (mostly against teams with losing records), I don’t see them going better than 11-14 in the last 25 — *could* get hot, much more likely not.
    That leaves them with 82 wins.

    I’d rather see them start aiming for a better 2018 and beyond than chase the absurdity of a playoff run. (Making a 1-game playoff is pointless and meaningless, to me.)

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Hardy returns. If he’s anything more than a late-inning defensive replacement…

    • Osfan73

      August 14, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I don’t know how Buck could justify starting JJ over Beckham. Just sometimes your loyalties have to take a backseat if it’s what is best for the team.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 10:56 am

      This is gonna be an interesting one. I’d imagine Beckham is the smart play for a postseason run and to shape next year’s roster. But Buck is very loyal. I think it partially depends on Beckham’s defense. But he’s been fine for the most part.

    • Paul Folkemer

      August 14, 2017 at 11:24 am

      At this point, I’m not sure how much the Orioles can do the rest of this season to prepare for 2018. They missed their chance to restock the farm system at the July 31 deadline. They could still make waiver trades this month of guys like Smith and Castillo, but those wouldn’t bring back nearly as much as guys like Britton or Brach (who won’t clear waivers).

      It’s possible that if the Orioles really fall out of the race this month, they could call up minor leaguers like Hays and Scott to give them some exposure to the majors in September. But I’m not sure they want to start those guys’ service clock this early.

      For better or worse, I think the roster the Orioles have now is basically what we’re going to see the rest of the season. I don’t expect any kind of youth movement in the final two months.

  2. Marshall

    August 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Yep, the losses were pretty disappointing. Time to shift perspective and focus on the enjoyment of watching Mancini and Schoop this year. I’m happy for Beckham’s start with the team, and while I would certainly enjoy the hell out of it, no one should have the expectations for his performance to continue at this pace next season.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

      I’d agree except that Wild Card is still floating within reach. Glad I’m not a fan. :).

  3. Bancells Moustache

    August 14, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Mediocrity. Hits the nail right on its unimpressive head. This is maybe a .500 team. The 2017 Birds are a warm bath. A turkey sandwich on white with no mayo. They aren’t good like the ’14, ’96 or ’79 teams, teams whose exploits you can instantly recall. But they aren’t bad either like in ’88. Say what you will about the godawful periods in Oriole history, at least they made an impact on your memory. No, this season will soon be another in the ones which just makes you briefly ask a question before shrugging your shoulders and moving on, like ’85 (‘Didn’t Boddicker look pretty good that year?’) or ’93 (‘Was Devereux still playing then?’) Oh well, such is life. My hope now rests on the minute possibility that ,with Buck and Duquette heading into their walk year and Angelos approaching 90, the Birds throw everything they have at 2018.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

      That may be a good Tap Room if they are done in Sept. what will this season be remembered for. Hold that thought.

      • Bancells Moustache

        August 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

        Maybe “remember when they traded for that guy from Tampa who briefly turned into the black Honus Wagner”?

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          August 14, 2017 at 1:54 pm

          Why does it have to be “briefly”? Positive vibes BanMo … POSITIVE vibes!!

  4. Osfan73

    August 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

    You are what your record says you are, and i’m afraid the Os are just that, about a .500 team despite looking much better on paper. Since the Os got ‘back in the WC race’ they’ve been waffling around .500 and unable to gain any additional momentum, or as you put it treading water. This team can’t seem to generate any consistency that would allow for a winning streak of any kind. We’re not delivering that knockout punch when the other team is on the ropes as it where, leaving guys on base, and things like Seth Smith standing around yesterday arguing with the ump instead of RUNNING to first are to me just signs of a team struggling to get over that .500 mark, not one chasing a playoff spot. Kind of just starting to hope they can attain a winning season at this point.

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 11:17 am

      It’s so weird. If they can get to .500 and get a few more wins … eh, never mind.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    August 14, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Is everyone around here giving up? Where’s that team spirit? What about that good ol’ Oriole Magic? It can happen ‘eh? C’mon guys … keep the faith. Buck up campers …. I’m not sure … but how does that old adage go? ….. It ain’t over ’til the Cowboys play in week 1? (or something like that)

    Go O’s!!!

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Something like that.

  6. TxBirdFan

    August 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I’m with Boog! We shouldn’t be throwing in the towel now. Did we give up when the “Germans” bombed Pearl Harbor! Heck no. The O’s are playing much better baseball and with a few more timed hits they’d be sitting on a 5-2 road trip instead of 3 wins 4 losses. They should have 85+ wins in their tank which should be enough to sneak into the playoffs against another mediocre team. Only after that should we start talking about next year.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      August 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      That’s right Tex … it’s not over ’til WE say it is! Now who’s with us?

    • Dan Connolly

      August 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      Germans? Forget it, he’s on a roll.

  7. Homerago

    August 14, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Even with Davis entrenched in the lineup, the Orioles should have a much better record than they presently posses. However, management’s refusal to alter the tempo of many games by failing to bunt, hit and run, etc., has led to the predictable concentration of opposing pitchers to concentrate solely on the hitter. Even Earl Weaver played “situational ” offensive tactics when the three run homers weren’t getting the job done. As for the pitching, it’s difficult to explain why so many talented pitchers have performed so erratically.

  8. GSISDANNO

    August 15, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    The Orioles have as much of a chance to get the second wild card as any of the other teams. Every team is very flawed. This West Coast trip has been a big letdown. The Orioles are now 4-4 and they are amazingly inconsistent. In their four wins, they have scored 36 runs (9.0 per game). In the four losses, they have 10 runs (2.5 per game). Two of the losses have been by one run. It is mystifying how a team can look such an offensive powerhouse one night and manage three hits the next night. I still root for them but I see this season as similar to 2015 when they finished .500.

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