Starting pitching - which is getting reshuffled - remains Orioles' major problem in September - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Starting pitching — which is getting reshuffled — remains Orioles’ major problem in September

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

OK, so the New York Yankees blew the Orioles’ doors off Thursday afternoon, 9-1, in the rubber match of what we all thought was a key series.

The Orioles dropped two of three to the Bronx Bombers and were a middling 6-4 in their penultimate homestand of the year.

And now they go on a 10-game road trip to Cleveland, Toronto and New York, a trifecta of brutal places to play.

I can write about how the Orioles lost a major opportunity to flex their muscles in this American League Wild Card race and that, once again, they’ve made it more difficult on themselves as the final 22 games play out.

Problem is I’ve been writing about that for a couple months now. They keep hanging around the race, showing a surge only to fizzle again.

Really, there are no new angles here; only fewer days to opine about them.

The Orioles played a fairly woeful game all-around in Thursday’s make-up of Wednesday’s rainout.

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The most concerning part is that Kevin Gausman, who had been tremendous in his last two outings, only lasted three innings and threw a whopping 79 pitches while allowing five runs. Gausman had been a shining light for a chunk of the second half. But not Thursday.

“Tried to go deep into the game, especially (because) this was a pretty important game for us,” Gausman said. “I’m pretty mad at myself for just kind of going out and throwing (79) pitches in three innings and getting out of there. That’s something I’ve got to be better at.”

And the offense?

Well, this was one of those days for the feast-or-famine unit. They had their opportunities against right-hander Sonny Gray, but were hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position and left seven on base. Even when they smoked a few pitches – such as Machado’s screamer in the seventh that became a 4-3, lineout double play – it was right at a Yankee.

Sure, you could chalk Thursday up as one bad afternoon. Every team has them. And, with the schedule change due to Wednesday’s weather, the loss of an off day and an impending long road trip, it’s not a surprise the Orioles seemingly came out without much energy.

But, frankly, it’s too late to have one of those days a couple times a week – the season should be on the line every game in September. It’s not that the Orioles aren’t trying. They just can’t keep the mojo going once they get within real grasp of the second Wild Card spot. It’s frustrating for all involved, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter is trying to stay positive.

“It’s there for us. It’s still there for us. We’re going to have to have a little help because if you won every game you play, somebody’s got to lose,” he said. “So, you control some things but you don’t. We’ve stayed engaged in the competition. I still think it’s going to be there for us, but it’s going to be hard.”

It’s going to be impossible if they don’t get consistently better starting pitching, and stop putting the offense in deep holes.

To that end, the rotation is getting shuffled a little starting with this weekend in Cleveland against an Indians’ squad that had won 14 straight heading into Thursday night.

Wade Miley will start Friday, recently recalled Gabriel Ynoa pitches Saturday and then Jeremy Hellickson faces the Indians on Sunday. Showalter has tabbed Ubaldo Jimenez, previously sent to the bullpen, to start the opener Monday in Toronto.

Dylan Bundy likely won’t start until Wednesday in Toronto, an eight-day rest. Chris Tillman has been sent to the bullpen for now. He is dealing with a sore wrist, but said it feels better and he should be fine to pitch out of the bullpen this weekend if needed.

The Orioles are trying things here with one goal in mind. Get better starting pitching. It’s been the theme all year. It shouldn’t still be the theme in September, but it is.

This was a winnable series – especially with the Yankees coming into Baltimore at 3 a.m. on Monday and losing a heartbreaker Tuesday. Yet the Yankees still managed to win two of the three at Camden Yards.

You can explain it away – and Showalter did. But the bottom line is time is running out on these Orioles and they just keep letting chances slip away, dropping four of seven after winning seven straight.

“We don’t live in that negative world with those type of approaches and mentality. We can’t or this game will eat you up,” Showalter said. “The Yankees are a pretty good team, and they’ve added pieces like Sonny Gray and (Todd) Frazier and (David) Robertson … The competition is ourselves as much as anything. We won those seven games you’re talking about in a row. We’ve gotten some quality starting pitching and, when we didn’t, a couple of those games we were able to make up for it in other areas.

“So that’s going to have to get better. We’ll see.”

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Craig417

    September 7, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Showalter is right about the players NYY added. The problem is the O’s added far too little! This a 500 ball club with spurts then flutters to the middle. All teams go through injuries of key players and the season would have been a lot different if Tillman didn’t spend the entire year on the DL and if Gaussman and Jimenez could throw strikes and if Davis could get the bat off his shoulder. A lot if ifs playoff bound teams have reasonable solution. When you don’t have a reasonable stand in for Jimenez not only do not have a pitching staff – you have no hope for a playoff spot.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      They are gonna try Ynoa now. But Jimenez will start Monday.

  2. Osfan73

    September 7, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    That noise you here is called choking, and that’s exactly what Gausman and Co. did today. I guess what’s so frustrating is that G can be so good/dominant, then look like a clueless rookie. There’s no middle ground with him. His quote above that he was trying to go deep especially because it was a pretty important game sounds like he may have been pressing and trying to do too much maybe. Whatever it was NY figured him out and made him pay.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 7, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      I’ll say this: That’s a patient lineup that fouls off good pitches and feasts on bad ones. And that happened today.

  3. 5brooks5

    September 7, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    What is truly amazing is that this team is two games above 500 , with these starters!

    • Dan Connolly

      September 7, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Yup

    • Dpsmith22

      September 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      -IF Duquette wouldn’t have released Gonzo in 2016, we would have won the East.
      -IF we still had Gonzo, good chance we would be winning the East

      -Duquette has been awful at not only signing FA starters, but finding LEGIT rotation depth. The O’s have won despite Duquette’s poor perforamance here in Baltimore.

      -The O’s rotation under Duquette, has an ERA of over 5. We need a change

  4. Craig417

    September 7, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I feel much better now ynoa and Jimenez are coming to the rescue. What time is the Ravens game anyway.

    • Osfan73

      September 7, 2017 at 11:55 pm

      Lol, maybe Flacco can get a spot start.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

      Brutal. Funny.

  5. Birdman

    September 7, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Not much mystery here – the Orioles have a number of excellent everyday players – Machado, Schoop, Jones, Mancini, and the Castillo/Joseph combo, but they are offset by one of the worst starting rotations in memory. So the resulting .500 record seems about right.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Likely will be the worst starters ERA in club history.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    September 7, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Ugh. The Return of Kevbaldo Gausmanez.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 8, 2017 at 7:04 am

    I’m so depressed.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 8, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I don’t believe that for a second.

  8. mlbbirdfan

    September 8, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Hey Buck, what about Miguel Castro ????
    How dare you. If you’re looking for a starting pitcher to go three innings with no runs on the board, he’s your man! What on earth are you thinking?

    • Dan Connolly

      September 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      I guess what to do after a starter not named Castro only goes 3 innings.

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