With yesterday’s 3-1 loss at Boston, the Baltimore Orioles dropped to under .500 for the first time since September 28, 2011. While that’s the truth, I would submit that it’s a totally irrelevant statistic at this stage of the season. Boston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Seattle are all among the teams that have the same or better records than the Orioles; how many of those teams will end up with better records when all is said and done? In fairness most people were probably saying that about the O’s at this stage last year. However the point is that fans shouldn’t be freaking out over the first seven games, good or bad.
That’s not to say that the team itself shouldn’t work out some of the issues that exist on the field. Over the course of the current three-game losing streak, the Orioles have struggled to score runs. In yesterday’s game they were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. My personal opinion is that Manny Machado should switch spots in the batting order with J.J. Hardy. Buck Showalter‘s vision has always been to hit Hardy lower in the order, however at this stage of his career Machado might not be ready for the two hole. (That’s not a knock on Machado, but more a testament to his youth and inexperience; it’s obvious that he belongs in the bigs, just not hitting second.)
The Orioles should also get Nolan Reimold back on Wednesday following his minor hamstring injury, and thus have the liberty of putting either him or McLouth in left and DHing the other one. As for second base, Alexi Casilla is probably better suited for that at the moment with Flaherty serving as the backup infielder. With all of that said, Showalter and his coaches look at matchups on a daily basis and put different guys in the lineup for different reasons; they have their reasons for doing this, and fans and writers (like me) alike need to recognize that.
Wei-Yin Chen turned in a quality start yesterday at Fenway, and he ultimately came away with nothing to show for it. Chen’s line: 6,1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB 3 K. Chen’s three runs came on a three-run homer by Will Middlebrooks when Chen was over 100 pitches. It might well be fair to wonder why Buck Showalter kept Chen in the game as long as he did, however ultimately starters need to go deeper into games. Chen stymied Boston’s lineup as much as Clay Buchholz stymied the Orioles. The Orioles couldn’t seem to put anything together offensively during the game, which in and of itself is worth mentioning as well. The Birds have run into some very good pitching both against Minnesota and now against Boston. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other side.
The O’s made it interesting in the 9th when Adam Jones hit a solo homer to lead off the inning, and Matt Wieters answered with a double. The Orioles had the tying run at the plate in the form of J.J. Hardy, who popped out to end the game. One other bright spot for the O’s was Tommy Hunter who came into the game in relief of Chen. Hunter pitched 1.2 innings with a strikeout, and kept Boston at bay to give the Orioles a chance to come back.
Today is an off day for the O’s, and the series will resume tomorrow night at Fenway. Adam Jones has arranged for a special showing of “42” (the Jackie Robinson movie) for him and his teammates today. Perhaps more than anything else the O’s need this day off tor regroup as a team. They’re nowhere near the time to panic yet, as we’ve only just started. However you want to nip these losing streaks in the bud before they get cranking and get your season down. They say that you can’t win a pennant in April, however you can lose one.