Observations from and analysis of the reeling Orioles losing all three games at the Tigers
Game 1: 4-2 loss on Tuesday night (April 17)
Game 2: 6-5 loss on Wednesday afternoon (April 18)
Game 3: 13-8 loss on Thursday afternoon (April 19)
1. 1988 was 30 years ago. The O’s famously went 0-21 to begin the 1988 season. The O’s now are 5-14. Save for winning three of four at the Yankees from April 5-8, the season has been a complete disaster so far. When the O’s pitch well, they don’t hit. On the rare occasions in which the O’s have hit well, the team hasn’t pitched well. A season that many felt would be ugly could be even worse than feared. And this isn’t some phony-baloney bad record filled with one-run losses. The O’s have the worst run differential in the American League at -43.
2. The Orioles’ offense continued to be bad this season over the first two games of this series until busting out in the 13-8 loss on Thursday afternoon. Manny Machado, who has been by far the Orioles’ best player so far this season, had two solo homers off ex-Nat Jordan Zimmermann, an RBI double and an RBI groundout.
But also in this game were continued defensive struggles for the O’s, including for Tim Beckham at third base. The Tigers’ four-run second included Beckham committing a throwing error that allowed James McCann to reach base to lead off the bottom of the second, Beckham charging but failing to bare-hand the ball on an infield single by Miguel Cabrera and Beckham bobbling a Nick Castellanos grounder on a lost chance at a double play.
Beckham is the Orioles’ starting third baseman because the O’s, for reasons beyond my comprehension, gave into Machado’s desire to move to shortstop permanently, even though everyone on the planet believes that Machado is gone from the O’s via free agency after this season. Machado has been an elite defensive third baseman. Beckham was a mediocre-to-poor defensive shortstop. Are the O’s better off on the left side of their infield with Machado at short and Beckham at third? The answer right now is no, and if that doesn’t soon change, then the O’s will deserve all of the criticism they get for acquiescing to the wishes of a guy who, again, most believe is as good as gone.
3. The Orioles’ two newcomers to the rotation struggled in this series.
Alex Cobb was woeful for a second time in two starts as an Oriole in the 13-8 loss at the Tigers on Thursday afternoon, allowing seven runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings. He gave up a homer, two triples, seven singles and a walk. It is way too early, obviously, to label Cobb Ubaldo 2.0. But the results over Cobb’s first two starts have been nothing short of disastrous: 15 runs (12 earned) in seven innings. Cobb is not a “stuff” guy. His location and ball movement have got to be on. They, uh, have not been so far.
Andrew Cashner struggled for the first time in three starts in the 4-2 loss at the Tigers on Tuesday night, allowing three runs in six innings. He gave up seven hits (including a two-run homer to Victor Martinez in the bottom of the second, an RBI triple and a double) and three walks. Just 55 of Cashner’s 93 pitches were strikes.
4. Kevin Gausman had his best start of the season so far in the 6-5 loss at the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon, allowing two runs in six innings. He did allow nine hits, including two solo homers and a double, but he issued no walks and threw 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
5. The Orioles’ bullpen had a painful series, allowing 11 runs in 8 2/3 innings over the three games.
Mike Wright Jr. allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings in the 13-8 loss at the Tigers on Thursday afternoon, giving up a grand slam to Leonys Martin in the bottom of the fifth. After Wright came Pedro Araujo allowing a run in 1 1/3 innings. He gave up three doubles.
Darren O’Day and Araujo combined to allow four runs over the final two innings in the 6-5 loss at the Tigers on Wednesday afternoon. O’Day gave up a one-out first-pitch go-ahead three-run homer to John Hicks in the bottom of the eighth. Araujo gave up on just his second pitch a walk-off solo homer to Dixon Machado.
Mychal Givens allowed a run on a single, a walk and a run-scoring wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth in the 4-2 loss on Tuesday night.