The Orioles scored one run on Tuesday night, a solo home run by Jonathan Schoop in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Schoop’s homer was the club’s primary offensive threat – if you don’t count Manny Machado being thrown out at a home on an attempted sacrifice fly in the third inning. After that double play, the Orioles’ next 19 batters went down in order.
That’s three-up and three-down in six consecutive innings. Unacceptable.
They failed to do any real damage against lefty Andrew Albers, a 31-year-old journeyman who was making just his 13th major league start with his third different big league team. Albers held the Orioles to one run on six hits in five innings while Seattle’s bullpen was perfect for the final four frames.
The Orioles are now 59-61 and have no chance to come back from the West Coast with a record at or above .500. They were one game under .500 when they left Camden Yards for the 10-game trek on Aug. 7, and that’s the best they can hope for after Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match at Safeco.
If they win, the Orioles salvage a 5-5 record on the trip: capturing one series, losing one and splitting one.
If they lose Wednesday, they’ll finish 4-6, and will have failed to win any of the three series on the West Coast.
So, the fate of an even road trip is in the hands of enigmatic right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. How do you like that?
For all the teeth-gnashing about the inconsistency and unreliability of the rotation, let’s not lose sight that the Orioles again followed up on a strong offensive performance with a dud Tuesday night.
Here’s their pattern of runs scored on this road trip: 6, 2, 1, 7, 4, 12, 3, 11, 1. Wanna guess which four games they’ve won? Exactly.
Consider that on this trip, the Orioles have scored 47 runs and allowed 37 – and lost five of nine. Because they score in bunches and snore in bunches.
It’s a real frustrating offense to watch, simply because we see how good it can be and then immediately witness how lost it is the next day (or next inning). Manager Buck Showalter often explains away the inconsistency by citing how tough it is to hit against the best pitchers in the world on a nightly basis.
With all due respect, the four starters that have held the Orioles to three or fewer runs on this road trip were Orioles’ castoff Parker Bridwell, rookie Troy Scribner, the previously struggling Kendall Graveman and Albers. That’s not exactly the 1971 Orioles’ rotation here.
In those four losses, the Orioles walked twice and struck out 37 times. Hmmm.
This isn’t rocket science and it’s nothing new. Heading into play Tuesday night, the Orioles had the fifth highest number of strikeouts in the AL and third fewest number of walks. They also had the fifth most runs scored and third largest home run tally.
So, it’s not like this offense can’t score runs. It has scored more than 10 other AL teams. But it continues to be feast or famine due to its swing-and-miss penchant. The only easy explanation is that the individual hitters’ approaches aren’t consistent, varying wildly from game to game.
I’m sure some will blame hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, but it’s not as if he is changing his philosophy each game. It’s the way the hitters are executing that plan. The fluctuation has to be on them first, and then you can give credit to the parade of Cy Young winners they face nightly.
Manny Machado, Trey Mancini and Chris Davis combined to see 30 pitches Tuesday night — in 11 plate appearances. Davis saw eight in three at-bats and struck out twice. The Orioles saw a total of 113 pitches in 32 plate appearances, fewer than four per at-bat. That’s some ugly math.
Again, none of this is new. It’s been going on for years, well before Coolbaugh.
This is the type of lineup the Orioles have assembled.
When the aggressive, powerful hitters are on, watch out.
And when they aren’t, tune out.