We didn’t make a big deal out of it when the Orioles left Camden Yards last week for a 10-day, 10-game, three-city, two-time-zone trip.
The focus at the time was on how good the Orioles have been at Camden Yards – and they’ve been splendid, a record of 39-17 (.696 winning percentage). That’s the best home mark in the American League.
The focus is different now. It’s on a lackluster, all-or-nothing offense that has scored three total runs in three losses in Oakland.
It’s also on how much these Orioles have struggled on the road, 24-33 heading into Thursday’s series finale versus the A’s. That’s a significant concern as they prepare for the playoff push.
Before we get all maudlin, I suppose there are two pieces of good news here: One, they did beat the White Sox two of three in Chicago to begin this trip. So it hasn’t been a completely lost voyage. And the Orioles are seemingly always terrible in Oakland, so stumbling there this week is not necessarily indicative of impending doom.
Since 2003, the Orioles are 15-36 versus the A’s in Oakland. It’s hard for a big-league club to be worse than that at one venue. Why is it such a consistent nightmare? Obviously, a visit to Oakland means a cross-country trek and, in August, that means an extra dose of fatigue. And the O.co Coliseum is not built for the Orioles’ feast-or-famine power offense.
But, still, the A’s are a shell of themselves and the Orioles needed to take advantage of that. And they failed in their first three attempts.
Certainly things don’t get easier this weekend, when the Orioles face Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto back-to-back Saturday and Sunday. (Hey, at least San Francisco and Oakland are so close that there’s no real travel to consider in Northern California).
Strangely, the Orioles of the past few years usually do OK against the stud pitchers – it’s the journeymen and rookies that seemingly twist them into knots.
And the Orioles’ offense has been a pretzel for much of the second half. Since the All-Star Break, the only AL club with a lower batting average is the Toronto Blue Jays (.225 to .221), and the only one heading into Wednesday night that had scored fewer runs per game since the break is the Kansas City Royals (3.32 to 3.29).
Once this road trip ends Sunday, the Orioles play 25 of their final 45 at home. And two of those road games are down I-95 in Washington.
So there will be plenty of home cooking once the Orioles survive this string. It would say plenty if they could escape at 6-4. Even 5-5 would be acceptable at this point. But 3-7 or 4-6 is more likely.
You never want to make too much out of one series or trip in a 162-game season, but the Orioles knew in April this one would be a real challenge. And, as the schedule fades away, this one has been as advertised.