The Orioles sucked today. This has not been an isolated incident. They sucked yesterday too and have sucked a lot over the whole of the last month or so of baseball. It is past the point where we can pretend that it might be bad luck or some kind of normal ebb and flow of a baseball season. There are problems that must be resolved if they are going to be successful for the rest of the year or ever again.
Everyone in Birdland knows the line from Orioles Magic that proudly proclaims that every game has a different star. Much of 2017 has been like that, only instead it’s every game having someone who doesn’t look like they should be playing against MLB competition. Sometimes, as in Sunday afternoon’s 14-3 loss that sealed a sweep at the hands of the Yankees, many players look that way.
The lion’s share of the blame for this Sunday blowout must be laid at the feet of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, whose immolation continues. The only nice thing that can be said about his outing is that he did not suck as much as Chris Tillman did on Saturday night. As Tillman appears to be physically limited while Gausman is (they insist) at full strength, this is little comfort.
Yankees hitters came out ready to hack against Gausman from the game’s first inning. They had done their homework. They knew what they should expect and they jumped on it. Three batters into the game, Gausman had thrown just three pitches and two of them resulted in hits. How does that even happen?
This remarkable pitch efficiency from Gausman continued for a little while. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it was not the kind of efficiency that results in zeroes on the scoreboard. That’s because by the time Gausman had thrown 12 pitches to Yankees batters, the Orioles were losing, 5-0. That included a 450-foot home run blasted by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, the longest home run of his young career.
The phrase that comes to mind is from Anchorman. “I’m not even mad. That’s amazing!” Also I am kind of mad because my having to write this recap meant I felt obligated to watch all of this game.
Things did not get a whole heck of a lot better for Gausman after that first inning. Although he allowed “only” two more runs for the remainder of the game, that only took him through one out in the fourth inning, and by the time manager Buck Showalter had finally seen enough of the nonsense, Gausman had allowed a whopping eight hits and six walks in those 3.1 innings.
Seriously, how do you do that? This is not a new thing for Gausman this season, either. On the radio last night, even the normally-sunny Jim Hunter noted that Gausman has allowed the most baserunners out of all qualified (1 IP per team game) pitchers. This Sunday outing only extended Gausman’s lead. His season WHIP is now 1.904 in 14 starts. Little wonder he has a 6.49 ERA.
Maybe Gausman can take some solace in knowing that if he keeps pitching fewer than four innings per game, he won’t stay as a qualified pitcher for too long. Someone else will have to wear that crown. It’s not much solace for those of us who have to watch him pitch every five games here.
The Orioles certainly aren’t helped by how he’s pitching this year. But it’s not like Gausman is the only problem the O’s have with pitching, and it seems that the attempts to solve any one of those problems internally have just not been working out.
To be sure, other pitchers had problems in Sunday’s blowout at the hands of the Yankees. By the way, the gurus at ESPN Stats & Info noted this is the first time the Yankees have scored 14+ runs in consecutive games since doing so in July of 2007 against the then-Devil Rays. And the MASN broadcast noted that the Yankees have now scored 8+ runs in five consecutive games for the first time since 1956.
Not the kind of history you want the Orioles to be making, but that’s the way it went. Logan Verrett was called in to go through the garbage time motions and gave up three runs, two earned, in 2.2 innings, including an absolute monster bomb to Aaron Judge that traveled an estimated 495 feet.
Freshly called up reliever Jimmy Yacabonis, making his MLB debut, was also victimized by Judge, though the real problem for Yacabonis is that he had a hard time finding the strike zone, which has also been true for him in the minors. Maybe he’ll get another chance or maybe he’ll just be sent right back down for a fresh reliever tomorrow. Yacabonis gave up four runs in one inning.
Judge must wish he could face the Orioles some more. He has now hit eight of his 21 home runs this season against the O’s. Thankfully, the Orioles won’t be facing the Yankees again until September. They will have to see if they can do any better against someone else.
Pitching was the big problem for the Orioles, but hardly the only one. There were multiple plays that went sideways because of apparent miscommunication - a ball dropped in between Trey Mancini and Adam Jones that should have been caught; later, Mancini pulled up from a catchable foul ball to avoid a collision with third baseman Ruben Tejada.
Add in a double play not turned because Jonathan Schoop just took too long making a relay throw and you’ve got to imagine Showalter wants to tear his hair out. Fans who watched the game are probably right there with him.
The offense didn’t exactly do its part either. They’ve now scored more than three runs in just three of ten June games. They were presented with a gift, a bullpen game from the Yankees, with Masahiro Tanaka pushed back a day, and they scored no runs outside of a three run third inning.
The Orioles have now lost nine consecutive road games and they are just 10-20 on the road this year. They’re a bare one game over .500 and, with an Indians win today, they have finally fallen out of the second AL wild card spot. Since starting the year 22-10, they have gone on to lose 20 out of their last 29 games.
With a run differential of -40, the Orioles “expected” record according to that scoundrel Pythagoras is just 26-35. It is getting harder and harder to figure out how exactly this team managed to start out with that 22-10 record.
The last place White Sox, whose record actually is 26-35, await the Orioles in Chicago for four games starting tomorrow night. Wade Miley pitches for the Orioles in the 8:10 contest, with Mike Pelfrey starting for the White Sox.