When a good baseball team plays a bad baseball team, it is not a surprising outcome when the good team is the one that wins. We have now had about two months of evidence about how and why the Orioles are a bad baseball team. The only question with them is what, in a given game, will be bad. As they played the Nationals on Memorial Day afternoon, the answer was the same as it has been many times this season: Everything. So they lost,
There are a lot of ways to win a baseball game. One way you will never win a baseball game is by scoring zero runs. The Orioles offense, then, is a prime culprit. This is not a new development. They entered the game with the worst team OBP in the AL, as well as the worst team OPS. This game did not improve matters.
The O’s have now been shut out five times this season. The surprise is that this hasn’t happened more often. They have been held to two or fewer runs in 21 games. Geez. You know? Just, geez.
On the subject of Gs, on Monday afternoon the Orioles found themselves facing off against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. The lefty’s presence shunted Chris Davis to the bench for the game and led to a little lineup juggling that made no difference whatsoever.
Gonzalez entered the game with a 2.38 ERA through ten starts in the 2018 season. The Orioles are not the first team against whom he’s pitched well and they won’t be the last, though he did pitch more than seven innings for the first time all season. He is better than the Orioles and so the Orioles lost. No one needs to pay a visit to 221B Baker Street to solve this mystery.
With just seven hits all game, only one of which went for extra bases, they have gotten what they deserved to get. The Orioles did not help matters by grounding into a double play three separate times. The slumping Trey Mancini, dropped to sixth in the lineup for the game, hit into two of them. The O’s only had multiple baserunners in two of the game’s nine innings.
No offense meant no margin for error once again for an Orioles starting pitcher. Alex Cobb took his turn under the no run support microscope on Monday afternoon. Cobb turned in an outing that counts as a masterpiece by Orioles standards: Seven innings, three runs on five hits and three walks, with three strikeouts.
That’s good! The pitcher who pitches like that has given his team a great chance of winning. But, well, the Orioles. Specifically, the 2018 Orioles. And so Cobb finds himself in the loss column despite containing a potent Nationals offense that leads the National League in home runs. On the bright side, his season ERA has dropped to 6.80. On second thought, there’s little bright side in a 6.80 ERA.
Only one problem inning did in Cobb’s chances in the game. After getting two outs in the third inning, the Nationals lineup turned over and rallied. The next five batters all reached base, broken up in the middle by a three-run home run hit by Anthony Rendon. According to Statcast, the hit probability on this batted ball was just 39%. Alas, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the ball snuck over the fence down the left field line. That was the game right there, not that anyone knew it at the time.
It’s impressive that Cobb was able to recover from this problem inning, in which he threw more than 40 pitches, to make it seven innings. That certainly helps limit the exposure of the bullpen.
Unfortunately for the O’s, the limited bullpen innings they needed still led to a disaster. The early season stalwart, Richard Bleier, continued his tough patch of outings. Summoned to maybe finish off the game from the eighth inning, Bleier couldn’t even get out of the eighth. He coughed up three runs on five hits and retired just two batters. He has now allowed runs in three of his past seven games.
The loss means that the Orioles could find themselves with MLB’s worst record at night’s end, depending on whether the White Sox beat the Indians later this afternoon.
Dan Duquette’s proclaimed Memorial Day deadline to assess the team makes it kind of fitting that they lost on Memorial Day. There was no doubt about what this team is, of course. This is just an exclamation point on the only obvious conclusion to reach about this team: “Sell!”
The series will resume on Tuesday with a scheduled 7:05 game. Jeremy Hellickson and Dylan Bundy are the listed starters. Because there’s no justice in the universe, or perhaps because the National League is a joke league whose quality should never be taken seriously, Hellickson has a 2.13 ERA through seven starts.