Early on this season, Orioles are turning Camden Yards into a no-hitters park - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Early on this season, Orioles are turning Camden Yards into a no-hitters park

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

We’re so accustomed to it being the starting rotation’s fault for losses at Camden Yards over the years that it almost seems odd typing this.

But since Opening Day’s win against the Minnesota Twins on March 29 through Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles’ offense has been non-existent.

A no-show with the exception of the occasional stray run here or there.

The Orioles have had five home games – four losses – in 2018 and have scored a total of seven runs.

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Seven runs.

On Tuesday night against talented right-hander Aaron Sanchez, the Orioles couldn’t manage a hit until Tim Beckham scorched a double through the legs of Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson to start the bottom of the eighth.

“Sanchez is a good pitcher. He’s really good. But we need to be better offensively. I think everybody knows that,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He was good, but I’m not going to say anything really that’s going to take away from the credit that he deserves. But we’re better than that.”

You would think this offense is better than that. But when do we stop taking that for granted?

It’s a ridiculously one-dimensional group – don’t stop me if you’ve heard that one before – and if these Orioles can’t hit homers in bunches they have trouble scoring.

Consider this: In their five games at home this year, they’ve been no-hit twice heading into the eighth inning and one-hit once heading into the ninth.

Or consider this: The Orioles have been outhomered at home 10 to 3.

In their 12 games so far this season, eight times they have scored three runs or fewer; six times, two runs or fewer.

“I don’t know. We’re just grinding. Things are not going our way right now,” said Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop. “But we come here and work and are trying to win. That’s all we can do. Come here and show up and work hard and go out there and play hard.”

Schoop, the 2017 Most Valuable Oriole, is one of the main culprits in this offensive fizzle. He is hitting .189 with one homer, one RBI, one walk and 16 strikeouts in 53 at-bats. Take out his 7-for-13 in a three-game series in Houston and he is 3-for-40 (.075) on the season.

Schoop, who hit .338 with runners in scoring position last year, is 0-for-13 in those situations this year with seven strikeouts. He was hitless in three at-bats Tuesday and rolled into a back-breaking double play with the bases loaded and one out in a tied game in the eighth.

“(Sanchez) got out of a big inning over there,” Schoop said. “We scored on him and I got a chance to do damage, but he made a good pitch and made me ground out into the double play. But he was good.”

Schoop isn’t the only struggling Orioles hitter, of course.

Chris Davis is hitting .081 (3-for-37), Tim Beckham is hitting .204 (10-for-49). Anthony Santander is hitting .194 (7-for-36) and Caleb Joseph, .115 (3-for-26).

Collectively, the Orioles are batting .208 with a .286 on-base percentage and a .342 slugging percentage.

The angry social media mob is calling for the head of hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, because this offense exhibits no patience, doesn’t take many walks, fans a ton and relies on the homer way too often.

Well, duh.

That’s not Coolbaugh. This feast or famine persona predates him.

That’s the way this roster was created. That’s the type of players this team has.

On Tuesday, the Orioles actually walked five times and had only four strikeouts. Yet they still didn’t work counts. Sanchez and closer Roberto Osuna combined to throw 113 pitches.

It’s not patient. It hacks.

And when it makes loud contact, great.

But when it doesn’t, the offense slinks away into the night with a whimper.

Tuesday was one of those nights. In fact, every night has been one of those nights so far at Camden Yards.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 11, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Dan, can you explain to me how a ball “scorched” through the legs of a 3rd baseman is scored a hit and not an error? The guy didn’t get his glove down, and Mr. Scorekeeper decides that a no-hitter has just been broken up. To top things off, neither Bordick or Thorne even question the call? C’mon folks …. that’s a blatant error by big league standards, and a no hitter was lost by a blind-homer of a scorekeeper. Am I alone on this?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 8:43 am

      That ball was absolutely torched. There was no time to get the glove down. Donaldson is lucky he didn’t get hurt.

    • Bancells Moustache

      April 11, 2018 at 11:05 am

      I’m with Dan-o, it may seem like they screwed Sanchez there, but if they ruled an E they screw Beckham. As hard as he hit that ball, that should be credited as a base hit. Also, I thought Donaldson had a dead arm?

  2. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    April 11, 2018 at 7:32 am

    The Oriole offense has been pretty terrible since the second half of the 2015 season — August timeframe — when they went on a 3-4 week losing streak while the batters corkscrewed themselves into the ground. That was a turning point, for some reason.

    Since then, the FO has done *nothing* but pay lip service to fixing the offense. Three consecutive off-seasons and nothing but more of the same.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Agreed. They’ve added guys. But they’ve been the same type of guys.

  3. DiamondJim

    April 11, 2018 at 8:20 am

    With the way our offense is going, why didn’t Dickerson send Beckham home with what would have been the 2nd Run of the 8th inning rally on Tuesday? When clutch hitting is AWOL, make the opposition make plays.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 8:49 am

      You got a little confused. Beckham scored the first run. The second run would have been Santander. He can run some but he’s not Beckham. With no outs and an average runner, holding him at third is the absolute right call. A sac fly and you’re up. The strategy question there is why not pinch-run for Santander at first instead of when he got to third? But you are likely saving Gentry in case Sisco hits into a fielder’s choice. Because you’d have to pinch-run for Sisco then.

  4. Dblack2508

    April 11, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Dan ,a common theme for the Orioles over the years. The lack of players capable of working counts is scary. Even in 2014 in the playoffs against good pitching they couldn’t manufacture runs. Sanchez pitched a good game, but was it that good or were the Orioles hitters that bad ?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Well, I think Sanchez was pretty good. And hitting (and pitching) in that cold is hard. But you’re absolutely right about not manufacturing runs.

  5. Osfan73

    April 11, 2018 at 8:27 am

    It all works to the opposing pitchers’ advantage…they come in knowing the Os will be overly aggressive at the plate, swing early & often thus keeping their pitch count low. And should some one actually get on base there’s little to no speed so steals aren’t a worry. Making it way too easy at times for the other teams’ pitching.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 8:52 am

      Right. Oftentimes the only pressure put on the opposition is the homer or double.

  6. Orial

    April 11, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Before my point I want to give a hats off to Toronto Mgr John Gibbons. Sanchez loses no hitter,gives up 3 straight hits,but Gibbons leaves him in there resulting in him getting the win(9out of 10 would have pulled him). Gutsy and deserving of respect by his players. Now my point. This poor hitting dilemma/overanxious approach is made that much more alarming when you consider who the free swinging culprits are–Schoop,Jones,Beckham,Santander,Manny to a lesser degree- the teams top hitters. Purposely left Davis off. I wouldn’t call him a free swinger. He can work the count he just can’t hit the ball. Only hope–attrition/changes.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 9:37 am

      It’s the type of guys they have collected.

  7. jkneps63

    April 11, 2018 at 10:04 am

    “That’s all we can do.” Wow and shake my head. Someone needs to let Schoop and the rest of the flail away gang what the definition of insanity is…You have a bunch of millionaire professional athletes playing a type of baseball that you wouldn’t teach your sons and they say “That’s all we can do”…They deserve to only have 8,640 people in attendance.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Of course, your sons aren’t making split-second decisions on 90mph sliders that biting into the dirt.

      • jkneps63

        April 11, 2018 at 11:06 am

        Ummm, speak of that which you know please! My eldest played HS, American Legion and some college ball. I coached at HS level. Not too many pitchers throw in the 90s in HS but mid 80s wasn’t too unusual. My son was coached by the Pirates traveling hitting instructor during the winters and he didn’t teach him this flail and hope technique. The Orioles at the MLB level have a “piss poor approach at the plate” (TM) I don’t think there really is much to argue about there…high OBP teams make the playoffs, that’s a fact.

        If you or anyone else teach your children to be undisciplined trying to hit a baseball, or do anything else in an undisciplined manner, you are doing them a significant disservice.

        And just lay off the sliders biting into the dirt…

  8. Bancells Moustache

    April 11, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Bancells Moustache presents “A SWING THROUGH HISTORY” A completely unsanctioned feature of BB.com, tracking the 2018 Baltimore Orioles glorious march to baseball immortality!

    MLB RECORD FOR STRIKE OUTS IN A SEASON: 1535 Houston Astros 2013
    ORIOLES CURRENT PACE: 1768 (131 in 12 games, 10.916 per game)

    An impressive drop off last night. Could our heroes date with the ages be in jeopardy? Nonsense! We still have Rasmus and Trumbo waiting in the wings!

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 10:52 am

      You are saying there’s a chance.

  9. Bancells Moustache

    April 11, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I am actually giving the Birds the benefit of the doubt here. While I’ve never bought into the nonsense of NFL teams being “cold weather” or “hot weather” teams, the effect on MLB players is much more dramatic. It sucks to hit in the cold. While that doesn’t excuse the atrocious performance in Houston, it definitely is a factor. Baseball is a summer sport and its makeup reflects as such. US born players tend to hail from Southern California, Florida, Texas and the South. And they also tend to gravitate there in the offseason. Then there is your Latino contingent, some of whom have never even fathomed temperatures below 75 degrees prior to their late teens/early 20’s, let alone tried to hit in it. So I’m giving the mulligan here. Once the weather finally breaks, that patience will run out. We can say they need to produce regardless of weather due to their professional status and compensation but looking at the recent attendance figures, I’m inclined to say a lot of fans don’t seem apt to put their money where their mouth is.

    • PA Bird Lover

      April 11, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Toronto is pretty much Latino and they win in the cold.
      The big difference is they are patient
      Hitters

      • Bancells Moustache

        April 11, 2018 at 12:31 pm

        I disagree. Yes, they won, but both games were dominated by the pitching, aside from Donaldson hitting a grand slam off a guy who never pitched above A ball. Sanchez and Cashner looked like Maddux and Glavine last night. Yes, they are both talented pitchers, but the batter being in discomfort had to play a role. My God, it was in the 40s and Beckham looked like he was in the Iditarod.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 11:57 am

      I wouldn’t call Toronto a Latino-heavy team anymore. Their three homers in the series were hit by Pearce, Donaldson and Granderson.

  10. Birdman

    April 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Interesting how quickly things can shift in sports. Just a couple of months ago, the Orioles’ starting rotation appeared to be a disaster. Now, it looks like the starting rotation may actually turn out to be a strong point for the team in 2018.

    Meanwhile, the offense is looking much shakier than expected. I know its a small sample size of games, and hopefully this pattern won’t last. But so far in 2018, the Orioles ratio of strikeouts to home runs is 10/1. Last season, that ratio was about 6/1. In 2016, the ratio was about 5.5/1.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 11:58 am

      It is early. Schoop who was so good last year I think is at 16/1. That will change. Or it will be a longer season than any of us realize.

  11. mindless1

    April 11, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I don’t understand why Coolbaugh keeps getting a pass while the team continues to struggle at the plate.
    I realize that he doesn’t swing the bat himself, but, he IS the “hitting coach”.
    What are they working on in BP or during off days?
    If he can’t make the hitters more effective, then maybe he needs to be replaced…

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      OK, first of all, they really don’t get off days. They’ve had one since Opening Day. Two, they work every day on their hitting. Hours before game time. Coolbaugh preaches recognizing pitches and swinging at hittable pitches. Getting the bat head longer in the zone. All of it. But hitting against a machine or a BP pitcher and doing it versus a live major leaguer is not the same. It’s not like hitting a golf ball on a range until your mechanics are right. The golf ball doesn’t move. Hitting coaches and pitching coaches can help tweak and provide suggestions. But once the season begins the hitters have to do it themselves.

  12. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    April 11, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Unfortunately only Mancini and Sisco are putting together good at bats. Mancini is really squaring up the ball but has had some tough luck. As noted Schoop is really struggling and many others are not getting into hitters counts. Its been frustratibg to watch solid pitching with little or no offense. Last nights game was such a tough loss.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 11, 2018 at 1:40 pm

      Yeah. It all fluctuates. It’s a tough game. Mancini for instance was 0-for-4 Tuesday and saw 11 pitches in four atbats. Tough game.

  13. jkneps63

    April 11, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    4/11: Six up, six down for da Birds, but “only” 3 Ks flail, wail, fail!!!

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