Note: The following conversation is completely, 100% fictional. All quotes are entirely made up and were never actually uttered. But just envision the following scene...
(Seven months ago, after Mike Elias’ introductory press conference)
Me: Hey, Mike! Welcome to Baltimore.
Elias: Thank you very much. Glad to be here. I look forward to getting started with the Orioles.
Me: Good luck. I’m really excited about this rebuilding process you’re planning.
Elias: Good, glad to hear it. Just a warning, though, rebuilding can be a difficult process. Not everybody has the patience to watch their team go through it.
Me: Oh, I’m not worried about that. I know the team is going to be bad for the next few years, but the payoff will be worth it.
Elias: That’s the idea. And yes, the team is probably going to lose a lot of games for the immediate future.
Me: No problem!
Elias: I mean a lot of games. Ugly losses, too.
Me: (chortling) Um, I think I can handle a couple of losing seasons. This ain’t my first rodeo!
Elias: You’re sure?
Me: Of course! I’ve sat through a 30-3 loss. A 115-loss season. Fourteen straight losing years. I’ve seen every type of terrible Orioles team imaginable. Absolutely nothing could faze me at this point.
(cut to today)
Me: (whimpering) Whyyyyyyy? Whyyyyyyyyyy? Oh God, make it stop!
The unending misery that is the Orioles’ 2019 season continued this afternoon, with a once-close game turning into an 8-3 Athletics romp en route to a series sweep. The loss was the Orioles’ eighth in a row, dropping them to 21-53 on the season.
They’re now, incredibly, a game behind the pace of last year’s historically awful O’s club, who were 22-52 through 74 games. It’s hard not to feel like more history could be in store for this year’s squad, and none of it good.
Give the Orioles this, though — even when you’re sure they’ll lose, they sometimes surprise you in how they lose. Entering the game, with the Birds planning to use Jimmy Yacabonis as an opener and Josh Rogers to eat up the middle innings, you might have expected this game to get out of hand in a hurry.
But the duo actually fared decently. Yacabonis tossed two scoreless innings in his role, and Rogers followed with two scoreless of his own, keeping the A’s off the board for the first half of the game.
That’s not to say they were perfect. With two outs in the fifth inning, the roof ultimately collapsed on Rogers, who allowed a double, a hit batsman, and an untimely three-run homer by Josh Phegley to give the A’s the lead. Rogers was so close to escaping with a clean outing, but that’s just not how things work for the Orioles.
While the pitchers hung in there, the Orioles’ offense didn’t pull its weight. They watched Chris Bassitt hound them for five hitless innings, in which the only two O’s baserunners came on a hit by pitch and a walk, with 12 batters in a row retired in between.
That hit by pitch was a story in itself. In the top of the first, a Bassitt fastball nailed Trey Mancini flush in the left elbow, bringing the O’s slugger to the ground in pain. Mancini clutched at his arm for several minutes as the training staff examined him, and he ultimately had to leave the game.
Mancini was diagnosed with a left elbow contusion. If the Orioles are lucky, the injury won’t sideline him long. But when are the Orioles ever lucky? Either way, if you thought the O’s were unwatchable already, just wait until they have to trot out some Mancini-less lineups in upcoming days. I just involuntarily shuddered.
After the O’s fell behind in the game, they finally scraped across some runs. Bassitt ran out of gas in the sixth, first losing his no-hit bid on a Jonathan Villar one-out single and then walking two hitters to precede a Renato Nunez RBI infield single. Bassitt didn’t make it out of the inning. Lefty Ryan Buchter walked in a run to make it 3-2, but Singlin’ Hanser Alberto couldn’t deliver one of his trademark one-base hits, striking out on a pitch in the dirt from Yusmeiro Petit to leave the bases loaded.
The two teams traded runs in their next at-bats, keeping Oakland up by a 4-3 score, but the wheels came off the bus for the Orioles in the seventh. The inning, of course, featured a characteristic defensive miscue by the Birds. With runners at the corners and nobody out, Matt Chapman hit a grounder up the middle to Alberto, who was on the left side of second base. Instead of running to the bag or throwing to first, Alberto tried to throw home from practically the edge of the infield dirt. His throw was too late to nip the runner at the plate and the O’s got no outs on the play.
The rest played out like clockwork. The A’s took advantage of the extra runners, with Richard Bleier giving up an RBI double and RBI single, and Miguel Castro uncorking a run-scoring wild pitch to turn the game into a laugher. The A’s extended their lead to 8-3, and went on to win by that score.
And so the beat continues for the hapless Orioles. Make it stop. Please?