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.
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.
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.