Each time you might think that things are as bad as they could possibly get with the Orioles, they dynamite open a hole in the floor to show that there’s a lot farther they could still fall. They fell a little farther in another disaster of a game on Saturday afternoon, being laughed out of Yankee Stadium in a 13-5 loss.
Maybe there aren’t must-win games in late August but the Orioles surely needed this one all the same, with the teams above them in the AL East starting to creep away and the teams below them in the wild card, including these same Yankees, creeping up on them from below.
A homer-prone rookie was starting for the Yankees and Dylan Bundy was starting for the Orioles. More importantly, tomorrow’s game can already be written off as a loss with Kevin Gausman pitching on the road. Saturday’s game is one the Orioles could have won, should have won, and needed to win. Instead...
Well, look, it was horrible. And here’s the thing, the word “horrible” is thrown around a lot, including by myself, when it’s probably not that severe of a situation. So I’m sorry for exaggerating in the past. But this was horrible.
Like “giving up a home run to Aaron Hicks” horrible. “Blowing a double steal to let a run score” horrible. “Mychal Givens had to pitch in the fifth inning” horrible. “Matt Wieters doesn’t know how to call pitches on an 0-2 count” horrible.
Jim Palmer - who is not at all horrible - has run out of patience with several Orioles, including Wieters. Palmer wondered, repeatedly, why there were so many high fastballs being called on two-strike counts when Bundy was fooling Yankees batters with his breaking pitches. Why, indeed?
Palmer also repeatedly referenced the fact that T.J. McFarland was rushed back to the big leagues in desperation, despite his minor league rehab not going particularly well, all for the Orioles to, hopefully, get a few innings out of him. Bundy only pitched four innings, for a variety of reasons, some of which weren’t his fault, and then McFarland was called upon.
And by the way, McFarland was not called upon in a lost cause of a game. Bundy gave up five runs in four innings, true, which sure isn’t great, and is enough to get us all wondering and worrying if the O’s are hurting Bundy with this late-season use.
But by the time McFarland stepped onto the mound, the Orioles were “only” losing 5-4, thanks to two Chris Davis home runs and a Mark Trumbo home run. The Orioles are never out of a game where their pitching staff can keep them remotely close! That’s the trick, isn’t it.
So, McFarland. Look, Palmer said it all already. McFarland got rushed here and maybe doesn’t belong here. He definitely gave up two home runs in the span of facing six batters in Saturday’s game, and was generally so pathetic that despite the fact that the Orioles desperately needed multiple innings from McFarland, just to eat the innings and move on, he was so bad that Buck Showalter was forced to pull him from the game. The Orioles trailed 9-4 by the time he left.
This is a cascading failure for the Orioles. Now Givens was forced to be deployed in the fifth inning, and he wasn’t good today either, so he threw 28 pitches and only got one out, which will affect him for the rest of the series (if the Orioles should happen to have a lead) and beyond.
Donnie Hart was also needed in the game, before the sixth inning even finished, for 36 pitches. Brad Brach had to pitch for more than an inning in a game where he entered with the Orioles trailing by eight runs. The “long” reliever revolving door will surely keep spinning another day.
In short, the Orioles are riding the disaster bus right now.
The Orioles have now given up at least 12 runs in four of their last nine games. They have given up 139 runs in 25 August games - 5.56 runs allowed per game. Their starting pitcher ERA is now over 5.00 for the season. The bullpen ERA, once a strength of the team, is now closer to 4 than it is to 3. They have three players with 30+ home runs and this fact almost doesn’t even matter.
We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the East and second place. Jones and Tillman and O’Day fell there. First place went 11 days ago. The home runs are over the wall in right field. Gary Sanchez keeps hitting homers. We cannot get out. The end comes. Drums, drums in the deep. They are coming...