The Orioles starting rotation is bad. This is not news. It has been bad pretty much all season. But sometimes, even knowing it’s bad, you still end up surprised at how bad it is. That’s the kind of game that happened against the Mariners on Saturday night as the O’s were knocked around, 12-6
Just about the only good thing that you can say about this game is that, elsewhere in the world on Saturday, the Red Sox were chewed up and spit out by a bad Angels team. Boston lost, 21-2. Their pitching is also really bad. So the Orioles lost no ground on their rivals. That’s something. Oh, and at least they scored six runs? That’s also something.
Everything else was bad. At least they didn’t bother getting your hopes up only to blow the game later. No. This was not that kind of loss. This was a “Nelson Cruz hits a three run homer in the first inning, and then Mike Zunino hits a two run homer in the second inning” kind of loss.
It was also a “Seth Smith hits a homer for the third straight game for the first time in his career” kind of loss. Smith’s home run was the third one allowed by O’s starter Tyler Wilson in the game, and at that point he had given up eight runs in the game.
Giving up three home runs is a bad night. Having so many runners on for those home runs makes for an even worse night. Wilson gave up nine hits and two walks in three-plus innings pitched. I mean, geez. There’s bad and then there’s that.
Why a starting pitcher has to just be not terrible
What made it all the worse is that it was another game where the starting pitching was so bad that not even the Orioles offense could do anything about it. They are very good at scoring runs, as they showed tonight, even against a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher. They don’t tend to hit well against lefties.
They rallied, though, scoring a total of six runs. That’ll win you most games. Even with this starting rotation being what it is, that’ll win you a good number of games. They scored in four different innings. It was not an all-or-nothing affair. The Orioles had good at-bats and hit pitches they should hit and they put runs up on the board.
Chris Davis hit his 21st home run of the year, driving in two runs in the seventh inning. Manny Machado had a multi-hit game, though he erased himself after one of those after yet another TOOTBLAN. Jonathan Schoop had two hits, and even Nolan Reimold had two hits. In fact, every starting position player had a hit other than Matt Wieters.
They did everything you could have asked, as they could have done, and the pitching, starting with Wilson and continuing on with certain relievers, let them down.
The bullpen did not exactly keep up its end of the bargain by holding the score where it was. Long reliever Vance Worley was better than Wilson, but only marginally - he gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of work, being chased from the game after giving up a home run to Adam Lind, who is definitely one of those, “Come on, THAT guy?”
Yes, that guy, and also Zunino, the very next batter. Zunino victimized Mychal Givens, who relieved Worley. This was the first game played at the MLB level this year for Zunino and he had two homers. That’s something, alright.
It’s now three losses in a row for the Orioles, which is bad, but not insurmountable. This too shall pass and all of that. They are still the team that rocketed their way to 17 games over .500 before the beginning of July.
One good thing about building up a five game lead is that lead can absorb a little rough patch. Ubaldo Jimenez pitches on Sunday so the patch may get a bit rougher, of course.
Ammo for the excuse makers
Could it just be the case that the Seattle Mariners are a bad matchup for the O’s? They hit right-handed pitchers fairly well - a .779 OPS as a team, which is third best in the AL.
That’s worse than the Orioles against righties, but still, Seattle’s better at this than most, and as we know, the Orioles don’t have any lefty starters to neutralize those guys.
From the limited visual evidence, it also seems like Safeco Field is not a friendly space for the skillset of most of the Orioles outfielders. That’s hardly helped in this series... not that it mattered much in Saturday’s game since they just kept giving up home runs like they were going out of style.
In the end it was only one game of 162 and there are 82 still to come after this. Presumably many of them will be better. The next game marks the numerical end of the first half of the season and the Orioles will, at worst, be 47-34 at that time. That’s still pretty good.
Jimenez is the scheduled starter for the O’s in Sunday’s 4:10 game, while the O’s will get to square off against Hisashi Iwakuma, the pitcher who no-hit them when he faced them in Seattle last year. Yay.