Baltimore's Nelson Cruz smiles in the dugout after hitting a home run in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. Photo: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Not well-armed, Orioles drop series finale

Playing from behind is tough. Case in point: this year’s Baltimore Orioles.

They have been outscored 106-86 in the first four innings. The finger can be pointed directly at the starting pitching, even though the hitting was flat during a recent stretch, which we’ll call April.

I’m not a genius who always knows what he’s talking about. But here are a few oddities I couldn’t help but pick out from the Orioles’ recent fortunes. Adam Jones‘ current uptick, which included the 14-game hit streak, has not pulled the team toward any daylight above the .500 mark. The much-anticipated return of Manny Machado was some benefit, but he and Matt Wieters were only together in the lineup, with Wieters hitting the cover off the ball, for a short while in May before Wieters went on the DL.

Being of some benefit means the team had a 5-game winning streak, played somewhat better, and had slightly better results to show for it (first place for a while), than they had while waiting for Machado and using a makeshift infield alignment for the month of April. The x-factor was not getting Manny back on the field, or Jones shaking off his slow April and getting hot. Okay, it wasn’t Ryan Flaherty slow or David Lough slow, but it was slow. Any slower, and we could use the word anemic.

The leading factor, hardly a mystery, is the starting pitching.

Allowing the opponent to get ahead early that often won’t do it. It hasn’t in April and May, and it never will. The offense is far from consistent enough to pull it out every time the pitchers, with tonight’s culprit being Bud Norris, put the team in an early hole.

Although the reasons are understandable, Chris Davis has gone back to looking just as lost since returning from his two-day paternity leave Tuesday as he was before he started to get his bat going. He’d repaired his

How far below .500 would the team be without The Incredible Mr. Cruz?
swing last week, and let’s trace it back to his 3-homer game against Pittsburgh on May 21, five days before his daughter was born Monday. But he left runners on second and third in the 7th inning tonight, in what was the Orioles’ last, good chance to tie or take the lead.

Speaking of doing it, The Incredible Mr. Cruz did it again tonight, with two home runs, giving him 19, which continues to lead the Major Leagues. One wonders how far below .500 this struggling club would be without Nelson Cruz. His two home runs tonight were the Orioles’ first two hits, both solo shots. This was his 14th multi-RBI game of the season.

It may be one thing to say that if the Orioles were going any better, the little things that go wrong during a game wouldn’t show up as much. But pitching that seldom goes past the 5th or 6th inning is not a small flaw. So it’s on to Houston, having dropped two of three to the Brew Crew.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Nelson Cruz

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