What do the Baltimore Orioles have to do to make a move in the second half? The starters have to pitch a consistent seven innings a game, and the hitters have to hit more consistently with runners on base. Welcome to a one-sentence version of what every pundit has been writing a mile and a half about for a while.
Here’s a somewhat more expanded version, since most writing instructors would say specifics are nice. Chris Tillman and Bud Norris have to turn their seasons around, and every hitter in the lineup except for the exceptional Manny Machado has to pick things up when teammates are on base.
Along those lines, it is all the more questionable that the club kept Michael Bowden at Norfolk as long as they did. Bowden today opted out of his contract, after going 7-2 with a 1.91 ERA, 20 walks and 52 strikeouts in 24 games over 75 1/3 innings. His ERA led the International League. And there was no room for him on the Oriole pitching staff.
This seems as if it breaks the elements of the game down to an almost too simplistic form, but if it does, losing 10 of their last 13 heading into the break screamed that things weren’t getting done right in whatever other form was being performed. The team is 44-44 and four games behind the front-running Yankees, after having been even in the loss column and tied for first place for a couple of days only two weeks ago. Four games back is not beyond rectifying at this point, of course, as long as they show signs of life starting Friday.
The concern that Adam Jones would exacerbate his nagging shoulder injury by playing in the All Star Game seemed to be for nothing, as he played five innings, went 0 for 2, and didn’t have a ball come his way in left field.
Machado didn’t miss a beat, with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Zach Britton pitched an inning and got himself in trouble with an error, but got out of it unscathed.
Jones’ shoulder situation has to show the rest had an effect starting Friday, when the Orioles start a weekend series at Detroit. His bat that has to go back to the productive levels of April and June for better things to happen to the recently swooning offense.