Orioles wind it down hoping for signs of punch against Red Sox


Chris Davis singles in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards Tuesday, the game that eliminated the Orioles from playoff contention. Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s review the last couple of weeks’ worth of goings on.

It’s over.

Even by Yogi Berra‘s standards, it’s over.

It was realistically over when the Baltimore Orioles lost four straight to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field last weekend. It was mathematically over Tuesday night, the result of a loss to Toronto combined with Cleveland’s walk-off win over Chicago.

Twenty-one consecutive games in which the Orioles scored five or fewer runs, beginning on September 2 and ending with Wednesday’s 9-5 binge victory, had a lot to do with what will go down as The Lost September, even though they followed that 9-run sign of life with a well-pitched, 3-2 win in last night’s series finale against Toronto.

That gave the Orioles the season series over the Jays, going 10-9 against what was supposed to be the American League’s best team coming out of Spring Training.

Over the past 28 days entering Friday’s game, a period that encompasses September, Chris Davis, in spite of his season total of 53 home runs, was hitting .202 with 15 RBI and 38 strikeouts; Adam Jones .224 with 11 RBI and 27 strikeouts; Nick Markakis .242 with 6 RBI; and Manny Machado only .196 up until his knee injury. That’s courtesy of baseballreference.com.

Orioles fans will remember Davis’ spectacular year for a long time, as well as Machado’s historic first half and superlative defense. Jones had a good year pockmarked by the issue of not talking walks. But the whole story is the uncanny way in which great individual stats belied the mediocre, team game they played. Don’t want to go as far as mediocre? How does inconsistent grab you, since it had some high points, too?

The well-documented problems of hitting with runners in scoring position were as pronounced as the individual numbers were good. The well-documented issues of never winning more than five in a row and never sweeping a series – and being swept in some – constantly held the team back. Being swept at home by San Diego in May stands out, as does dropping three heartbreakers in a row at Arizona in the road trip after the All Star Break. Two blown saves and a come-from-ahead loss.

It was usually difficult to say whether the hitting or pitching was the problem, but they both were, in turn, at the most inconvenient times. For most one-run losses, the lineup could be blame for that runner-in-scoring-position issue, thus leading to the game being that tight in the 8th or 9th inning. Jim Johnson‘s nine blown saves are something analysts, both professional and amateur, will always point to and probably be right. Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Dan Duquette announced this week the Orioles will offer Johnson a contract in the offseason, answering a lot of fans’ desire to wave JJ bye-bye.

That still doesn’t eliminate the possibility he’d leave or not accept the offer. Another team may offer him a better deal, but that would not be counted on to happen coming off those blown saves.

We’ll deal with some more of the problems pretty soon, but I vote to watch the last two games against the Red Sox, see if there are good points to take from them, and look back at finishing over .500 for the second straight year.

I’m speaking of the season in the past tense, even though it’s not over, because the Orioles’ playoff chances are. The final weekend series with Boston is a time to show some signs of life and play for pride, and the team certainly had the same amount of it as always last night, even though the results weren’t there for Scott Feldman.