Observations from and analysis of the Orioles’ series loss to the Indians
Game 1: 3-1 win on Friday night (April 20)
Game 2: 4-0 loss on Saturday (April 21)
Game 3: 7-3 loss on Sunday afternoon (April 22)
Game 4: 2-1 loss on Monday night (April 23)
1. The O’s now are 6-17. The 17 losses are the third-most before May 1 in franchise history. In order to win 85 games and legitimately be in wild-card contention, they would have to go 79-60 the rest of the season. You tell me, do you anticipate that? The point here is that the O’s should shift into sell mode now. And by that I mean become open to trading away free agents-to-be like Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton and Brad Brach. I’m not saying that you have to trade them all away right now, because the best offers may not come until later. What I am saying is don’t be foolish like you were last season. The O’s made a colossal mistake in not selling prior to last season’s non-waiver trade deadline. Don’t compound that mistake by stubbornly insisting that you can go 79-60 – i.e., play .619 baseball – the rest of the season. And, by the way, even doing that wouldn’t guarantee you anything.
2. The Orioles’ season is essentially already over thanks to an offense that has been horrendous. The potency of Orioles offenses has been overstated. Their offenses haven’t been good, they’ve just been really good at doing one thing: hitting home runs. The O’s have been bad at drawing walks, not striking out, making contact and stealing bases for years. And now the homers have disappeared, and so the offense has been woeful. The O’s were the victims of a two-hit shutout by Mike Clevinger in the 4-0 loss to the Indians on Saturday. The O’s had just six hits and no walks in the 7-3 loss to the Indians on Sunday afternoon. The O’s had just seven hits and two walks and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the 2-1 loss on Monday night. The O’s are dead last in the American League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and thus OPS. And don’t blame Mark Trumbo having yet to play in a major-league game and Jonathan Schoop being hurt as the reasons. Trumbo wasn’t even good last season. The likes of Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Tim Beckham have struggled beyond even most people’s worst expectations. There is no overstating about bad this offense has been save for two guys: Manny Machado and Trey Mancini.
3. And now Mancini is hurt, though thankfully the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious. He had a two-run double in the bottom of the fifth in the 3-1 win over the Indians on Friday night, but he injured his right knee in going after a foul ball in the top of the eighth. He did not play in Games 2 and 3 but did pinch-hit in Game 4.
4. The biggest offensive bright spot by far remains Machado, although, of course, this just seems to be one giant reminder of what the O’s almost certainly will not have beyond this season. But he continues to kill it. The guy went 6-for-12 with three homers and four walks in the series.
Machado in the 3-1 win over the Indians on Friday night had a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, drew a walk and made a sensational defensive play in the top of the seventh, diving to his left to grab a Jose Ramirez grounder and then tossing the ball from the ground to Luis Sardinas at second for a force out with runners on the corners and two outs.
Machado in the 7-3 loss to the Indians on Sunday afternoon had two solo homers and a single – all off one of the best pitchers in the majors in Corey Kluber.
And Machado in the 2-1 loss to the Indians on Monday night had a single and two walks.
5. Sandwiched around two bad starts were two terrific starts from the Orioles’ rotation in the series.
Kevin Gausman was great in the 2-1 loss to the Indians on Monday night, allowing two runs in eight innings on seven strikeouts versus four hits and a walk.
Dylan Bundy in the 3-1 win over the Indians on Friday night did as an ace is supposed to do, ending the Orioles’ six-game losing streak by being good for a fourth time in five starts this season. He allowed one run in six innings on nine strikeouts versus five hits (including four singles), two walks and a run-scoring hit-by-pitch. Two singles, a walk and the run-scoring hit-by-pitch all came in a one-run first that could have been much worse. But Bundy escaped a bases-loaded one-out jam without allowing more than a run and then largely cruised over the next five innings, including striking out Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Roberto Perez in a perfect sixth. King Kong Bundy now over five starts this season: 1.42 ERA, 40 strikeouts versus nine walks.
Andrew Cashner in the 7-3 loss to the Indians on Sunday afternoon struggled for a second straight start: four runs in six innings. He tossed three scoreless innings but then gave up two runs in the top of the fourth on a homer and two doubles and then two more runs in the top of the fifth on two walks, two singles and a wild pitch.
Chris Tillman in the 4-0 loss to the Indians on Saturday was bad for a fourth time in four starts this season. The narrative coming out of this game was that he took a step forward. Yes, technically that’s true. But that’s like saying that going from being punched in the face to being kicked in the stomach is a step forward. Tillman allowed four runs in six innings, giving up three solo homers, five singles, a walk and two wild pitches. He gave up two solo homers in the top of the sixth, including a moonshot to Yonder Alonso. Just 51 of Tillman’s 83 pitches were strikes. How now has a 9.87 ERA this season off a 7.84 ERA last season. He shouldn’t be in the Orioles’ rotation, and that they keep starting him is painful.
6. The Orioles’ bullpen had a good series, allowing just three runs in 10 innings. All three runs came off Brad Brach in the top of the ninth the 7-3 loss to the Indians on Sunday afternoon, during which he gave up a two-run homer to Jose Ramirez.