Baltimore Orioles: Wild Card issues after the West Coast trip
After three disappointing series against AL West teams, the Baltimore Orioles are on their way home.
Despite scoring more runs than their opponents in their last two series, the Baltimore Orioles will return home three games under .500.
They arrived on the West Coast with a .500 average.
If the Orioles are going to continue in the Wild Card hunt, they have to do better. And they have to rely on a few other teams.
Wild Card standings
As it stands, the O’s are sitting three games back of the second Wild Card spot in the AL. If today were the last day of the season, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels would play each other.
On the West Coast trip, the Angels made their way to the Wild Card spot by defeating the O’s in their series in Los Angeles. But, with the Halos arriving in Baltimore for a three-game series over the weekend, the O’s could swap places if they can manage a sweep.
They could cement the spot with another series win over the Seattle Mariners, who arrive in Baltimore later in August. Right now, the Mariners are 1.5 games back and need to leap over the Kansas City Royals and the Minnesota Twins who are 0.5 and 1.0 games back respectively. The rest of the tight AL Wild Card race includes the Tampa Bay Rays at 2.0 games back and the Texas Rangers at 2.5 games back.
But, if the O’s keep going back and forth with wins and losses, the Wild Card will only get further out of reach. As it stands, the O’s have plenty of opportunities to climb over every single team in the field. But, they have to get things going and they have to stop a few things.
Pitching can’t stay consistent
Today’s game against the Mariners was a perfect example of what is going wrong. Ubaldo Jimenez continues to have mixed outings. Against the Mariners, he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. His final line of 8 hits, 6 runs, and 2 strike outs. He was supported with a home run in the first at-bat of the game by Tim Beckham. By the time he returned to the mound in the fifth inning, the O’s had a lead of 4-3. Then, Jimenez blew it.
This seems to be a continuous problem for Jimenez. He can’t get wins against competitive teams. Along with the offensive support, Jimenez also gets defensive support. There were four double plays to help prevent more runs from scoring. In Jimenez’s last outing against the Oakland A’s, the team lost by one run – just like today. He’s not the only pitcher who has this issue – otherwise, the team could string two or more wins together.
The offense is producing
The offense is producing and the defense is working. In fact, the offense is producing so well that in the West Coast trip, they actually outscored the Athletics and the Mariners. In the split series with the A’s, the Orioles outscored them 26 runs to 21. Against the Mariners, the Orioles scored 18 runs to 13 – yet, the Mariners won the series. Against the Los Angeles Angels, the Angels outscored the O’s by one run.
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It is clear the O’s can score a serious amount runs, but they need to stop giving them up to the other teams. This team has an offense to fear – from top to bottom. Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado are ranked in the top 10 of AL RBIs. Schoop, Machado, and Adam Jones are all in the top 20 rankings for hits by AL players. Tim Beckham has the third most triples in the AL and Schoop has the 10th most doubles. And, four O’s have more than 20 home runs – no other AL team has that many hitters with more than 20 home runs. The offense is for real.
Could the O’s get more walks?
Despite all of the extra-base hits, there is one area that could be improved: walks. The O’s do not walk much. Aaron Judge has the most walks in the AL with 88. The first Orioles player to show up on the list of top 50 walks is Chris Davis. He’s ranked 32nd. Behind him at #47 is Machado. Davis has 45 walks, Machado has 40. With the number of home runs and extra-base hits that the O’s produce, something is keeping opposing teams from NOT walking them.
Next: Three O's with outstanding numbers in August
It’s going to be a difficult fight for the O’s to get into the postseason. The team is 10 games back from the Boston Red Sox and their lights-out rotation. The Wild Card is a doable thing, but it won’t be done if the pitching continues to let down the offense. The match-ups need to be made with the intention of winning and the pitchers need to deliver. Without it, the O’s will all go home after the final game on October 1.