A return to Baltimore did nothing to halt the never-ending nightmare that is the 2018 Orioles.
They lost their fifth straight game Monday, dropping their MLB-worst record to 19-46. It’s the middle of June and the Orioles are still seeking their 20th win.
With their .292 winning percentage, the Orioles are on pace for a 47-115 record this year. That would make them just the fifth team since 1900 to lose at least 115 games. It would also give them the worst record in the majors since the hapless 2003 Detroit Tigers went 43-119.
The Orioles needed 12 innings to lose Monday — with the Boston Red Sox scratching out a pair of sacrifice flies off Mychal Givens in extras for the 2-0 victory.
Once again, the Orioles’ undoing was their atrocious offense.
It’s become an all-too-familiar refrain. The team-wide offensive blackout descended to new depths, as the club failed to score a run in 12 innings against knuckleballer Steven Wright and a succession of Red Sox relievers.
Entering the night, the Orioles already ranked last in the AL in runs scored (229), batting average (.228), on-base percentage (.292), slugging percentage (.379) and OPS (.671). In their last 23 games, they scored more than three runs four times. During that span, the Orioles were batting .149 (21-for-141) with runners in scoring position.
Each of those numbers plummeted further after Monday’s cringeworthy effort. The Orioles managed five hits against six Sox pitchers, and they were 0-for-8 with men in scoring position. The Orioles stranded the potential winning run at second base in both the ninth and 10th innings as the night dragged to its fateful — and agonizing — conclusion.
“What’d we leave, 12 guys out there?” Buck Showalter asked post-game. “We walked seven (times), hit by pitch. So, we had plenty of opportunities. Just couldn’t get that hit that’s been eluding us, it seems like, for quite a while.”
The biggest culprit was the much-maligned Chris Davis, who took an 0-for-5 and struck out three times, his 21st consecutive game with at least one strikeout.
Davis is approaching historic levels of futility at the plate. Entering the game, he had the lowest average (.153) of any qualified hitter in the majors, as well as the worst OPS (.465), which was nearly 50 points lower than the next-worst. Davis also owned the worst slugging percentage at .233. Yes, that’s right — the man who signed a seven-year, $161 million contract largely because of his power, has a lower slugging percentage than any other big league regular.
In happier news, Davis’ .232 OBP was only second-worst in the majors, topping Lewis Brinson’s .210. Brinson, though, is a 24-year-old rookie for the Miami Marlins who provides value with his defense as a center fielder. He’s a good bet to improve offensively over time, while Davis, 32, is starting to seem like a hopeless case.
Davis’ hitless performance Monday dropped his batting line to .150/.227/.227/.454.
If Davis remains a full-time player for the rest of the year, he’s in danger of shattering records for offensive ineptitude. The lowest batting average in a full MLB season is .179, co-held by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013.
Davis is currently 29 points worse. He’s just five points ahead of Hal Lanier’s record-low OBP of .222 in 1968, and four points clear of Bobby Byrne’s MLB-worst .450 OPS in 1908.
“I’ll never not think that it can start tomorrow for Chris,” Showalter said. “I know how that may look to some people out there, but I’m going to keep that mindset. We’re going to keep working, trying to get it going. I know it’s frustrating for him and for everybody watching it that wants him and us to do better. But it’s a rough stretch for him, that’s for sure.”
The only Oriole who gave a sterling performance Monday was starter Dylan Bundy, who deserved a much better fate. Bundy overpowered the menacing Red Sox lineup for eight shutout innings, allowing five baserunners (three hits and two walks) while striking out seven.
“Dylan was as good as you want to see,” Showalter said. “A really tough lineup to get through. He was outstanding. … He wants that challenge. He doesn’t back off from it. He’s always had that kind of unique mindset that you look for in all players, especially a guy that you want to be taking the ball every fifth day in a meaningful situation.
“But regardless of what’s going on, he’s so self-driven. He’s a baseball player as a pitcher. That’s as big a compliment as I can give him.”
Bundy, though, went unrewarded for his dominance, thanks to total lack of support from his offensive teammates.
The song remains the same: The Orioles did just enough to lose a game. With three-plus months still left in the season, they’re becoming an unwatchable group.
They are, however, taking several shots at history – in all the wrong ways.