The Baltimore Orioles have seemingly been either poor or inconsistent at the plate since the all-star break. Can they get it back together?
Given that the Ravens open up their preseason slate tonight, I suspect that there are a lot of Baltimore Orioles fans wondering if the season is over. Yeah, now…in August. My response to that is NO. Granted that with last night’s 1-0 loss in Oakland Toronto is now in first place, however the Birds are a game out. So nothing’s said and done yet.
However since the all-star break the Orioles have struggled at the plate – of all places. In July I would submit that the bats were silent. Now come August, they’ve progressed just a bit to inconsistent. Ironically through all of this, the starting pitching has become very consistent; Yovani Gallardo gave the Orioles yet another quality start last night. Gallardo’s line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
An Alonso RBI-double was the lone run allowed by Gallardo. However when the bats can’t get it together, that’s all you need. And as I stated above, the Birds fell 1-0 and have now dropped three straight (in Oakland).
I’ve been telling fans who write into this column all season that if the offense continues to put up runs the way they are capable of doing, the starting pitching depth won’t matter as much. And it’s a situation like what we’re seeing now which attests as to why I offered that qualifier in terms of the O’s staying in the race…if the offense continues to put up numbers.
Now I do maintain that you have to look at the overall track record – both as individuals and as a team. There’s nobody out there who would dare suggest that the ten runs on Sunday in Chicago is the exception to the rule, and that the listless offense we’ve seen this week in Oakland is actually the norm. This is not a poor-hitting team; they’re a team that’s scuffling just a bit at the plate right now.
And the sad thing is that the Birds squared a lot of balls up last night – heck, for this entire series. But the Oakland Coliseum is so big, that those balls seemed to find a fielder’s glove. Manny Machado addressed this after the game (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
"Every game counts, so it’s difficult going out there and we can’t find a break. We’re squaring balls up and we can’t really do anything about it. We’re having good at-bats. We’re doing what we need to do, trying to get guys over, and it’s just not falling for us. So we just have to stay positive, stay together and keep playing as a team and keep doing it. Eventually things will turn around."
So the question is what can the O’s do to fix this? As Machado said, they’re having good at-bats, and the ball just isn’t falling. I mean…could it really be as simple as saying just hit ’em where they ain’t?
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Admittedly I’m not a fan of “simplicity.” In my world there always has to be some sort of complex fix to a problem. I suppose in a way a complex solution justifies a complex problem. So I’m not a big fan of saying hit ’em where they ain‘t, but I can’t really think of anything else to suggest!
The O’s do need to get this fixed, however. It’s easy enough to also say that Oakland has never been good to the O’s, however as Machado said these games still count. As I said above, the Ravens kick off their preseason slate tonight. To me NFL preseason is a time marker – we’re starting the turn for home. The Orioles are as much in this as anyone else – they just need to get their bats back on track.
The Birds will attempt to salvage a win in this afternoon’s series finale in Oakland. Chris Tillman will be on the hill, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Andrew Triggs. Game time is set for just after 3:30 PM.