I’m going to be honest. After last year, I didn’t think things could get much worse. But you know what? Right now, they seem worse.
Not only have the Orioles lost 8 in a row, they’ve also lost any semblance of a major league pitching staff, the ability to hit with runners in scoring position, and seemingly, their own self-respect.
In the month of July, during which the Orioles have lost 11 of their last 12 and 8 games in a row, the team ERA has been a frightening 7.80. Pretty bad, right? But when you factor in that during that same time span, the team has hit .236, it really kicks it up a notch. If you weren’t a savvy Orioles fan, now long accustomed to excruciating displays of futility, you might think that kind of thing would be hard to do.
I’m utterly at a loss to explain how terribly the team has played recently. As much as I believe in many of the young players the Orioles have drafted or acquired over the last several years, at moments like these, it’s difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Take for example three (once?) promising members of our starting rotation: Matusz, Arrieta, and Britton. Even Matusz, the polished college draftee that any team would gladly take suddenly can’t pitch more than 5 innings without giving up 4 runs. Does it all go back to the intercostal strain that kept him out of the starting rotation for the first 2 months of the year? Then there’s Arrieta, who despite having 9 wins, has had an elbow injury flare up several times, which has prevented him from being a rotation anchor that this team desperately needs. While it was probably asking too much for Zach Britton to continue his performance from the beginning of the season, he suddenly can’t seem to get anything to go his way either.
All three of these pitchers are highly regarded, particularly Matusz and Britton. I’ve got to believe that present struggles included, most any team would he happy to have them. What I simply can’t understand is what cruel twist of fate would lead them both to struggle so mightily at the same exact point in time, thereby costing the Orioles whatever momentum they might have built at the end of last season, along with any hope for a better season this year.
Add to that the fact that, right about now, as the Orioles are contemplating not *if* but rather to *what extent* they want to be sellers at the trading deadline, even some of their most potentially valuable trade chips seem to sputtering.
That’s worse than bad. That’s horioleble.
I’ve had a recurring thought over the past several years that goes something like this: why can’t the Orioles, even if by dumb luck, just have one magical season? Just think of all the teams that in the course of 15 years have one really great season, which is enough to stoke the energies of their maligned fan base and generate some enthusiasm for the future. How can it be that the Orioles haven’t even managed to stumble into mediocrity?
I feel somehow transported back to my inaugural ESB post, regarding how best one can identify a reasonable timeline for turning around a baseball franchise. Only now, standing here at the precipice of another total meltdown, as I reread those words, I’m beginning to wonder if the Orioles opportunity to restore hope to this franchise isn’t nearly lost. In that post, I wrote that while our situation was desperate, we hadn’t yet reached the 11th hour. Sadly, I feel now that we either have, or very shortly will. The times call for action.
“If you’re going through hell,” Winston Churchill once said, “keep going.”
I guess that’s what we have to do.