Back at the end of May, I cautioned fans of the Baltimore Orioles that it wasn’t time to panic. Well, now that we’ve passed the traditional halfway point of the season—also known as the All-Star break—I would say that it still isn’t time to panic. But it is definitely time to be concerned.
First of all, the Orioles are consistently inconsistent. A couple good games of baseball are generally followed by two or three games of bad baseball. What was the team’s hot streak-a stretch in June which brought them to the top of the American League East-was followed by a slumber that saw them promptly tumble back down the standings.
The season thus far isn’t without its bright spots. Manny Machado appears to be thriving in the leadoff role, and is having his best season so far. Let’s hope it continues (and that he can stay healthy to finish the season). Jimmy Paredes has been quite the surprise for the team offensively as well. And the defense is still pretty solid all around.
Lately though, the team has forgotten how to get base hits with runners in scoring position. It seems to be a team-wide problem. Last night’s game against the Detroit Tigers featured a woeful 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position. This also contributes to the team’s recent problem scoring runs. The pitching overall has been decent, if not great. Certainly it’s been good enough to win more games than they have lately. But when the pitching falters, unless the Orioles start swatting the cover off the ball, they aren’t going to win. Simple as that.
Despite the ups and downs the team has been going through, they haven’t exactly been punished for their inconsistency. The New York Yankees are ahead of the Orioles by 5 games heading into today’s action, and that isn’t an insurmountable deficit. What the Orioles need is a more consistent and winning approach, and they can get right back on track; if not for the division title, then at least a wild-card spot.
There’s still time to achieve one of those goals. But the Orioles have to start playing better baseball, and soon. You can bet the other teams that feel they have a chance for postseason baseball will be looking to strengthen their clubs before the trading deadline. The Orioles will also have to decide whether to make any moves or to stay put with the guys they’ve got if they believe they are good enough to get the job done. Hopefully the Orioles can stop treading water and begin to make some moves in the American League playoff chase.