You guys. I’m starting to think the 2021 Orioles aren’t very good.
The O’s reached an inevitable, ignominious milestone tonight, dropping the series opener in Boston, 7-1, for their 100th loss of the season.
One hundred losses. It’s one of the most woeful feats imaginable for a major league team, yet one that’s become all too commonplace in recent Orioles history. This marks the third straight full season in which the O’s have reached the triple-digit plateau, after doing so just twice in their first 64 years as a franchise (1954 and 1988).
One hundred losses. Good lord. I know it’s just a number, but what an embarrassing number it is. Even some of the most woeful Orioles teams in the last couple of decades managed to avoid the century mark in defeats. When the Orioles suffered 14 straight losing seasons from 1998-2011, the 100-loss mark was one bit of futility they always managed to avoid.
That doesn’t mean those teams were materially better than the current Orioles, of course. The O’s of that era would often throw pointless money at mediocre free agents in an effort for modest respectability, instead of committing fully to a rebuild. These Orioles have gone whole-hog in dismissing any semblance of competitiveness while restructuring from the ground up. All things considered, I like the current state of the organization better than those dark years.
Still. One hundred losses is a painful pill to swallow for O’s fans who tune in to every game, who buy tickets to attend games at Camden Yards, who want nothing more than to see their favorite team enjoy some modicum of success instead of being a perpetual doormat for years on end. We knew the Orioles weren’t going to be good. But did they have to be this bad?
You don’t get to 100 losses without doing almost everything wrong, and tonight’s game was the perfect encapsulation of the Birds’ season as a whole. Their pitching was atrocious. Their offense was nonexistent. They were hopelessly out of the game by the middle innings. The Red Sox did exactly what a winning, postseason-contending club should do to the bottom-feeding Birds, the same thing 99 teams before tonight had also done.
Keegan Akin turned in the latest lamentable effort from an O’s starting pitcher, laboring through 88 pitches while lasting just four innings plus one batter. Akin put the Orioles behind in the second inning by giving up an RBI double to former Oriole Jose Iglesias — who recently rejoined the Red Sox, his original team — followed by an Alex Verdugo sac fly. He surrendered a Green Monster home run to Bobby Dalbec in the fourth, then walked the leadoff man in the fifth, who eventually scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double off Marcos Diplan.
Dusten Knight, who was promoted from the minors earlier in the day, slogged through the kind of outing that showed why he probably shouldn’t have been. In the sixth, Knight retired only one of the five batters he faced, loading the bases on two singles and a walk before a Hunter Renfroe double brought everyone home. That made it a 7-1 game and made loss #100 all but official.
Chris Sale had a much easier time of it on the other side of the mound. The Sox ace mowed through five easy innings, giving up just two hits and one run, courtesy of a booming Austin Hays homer over the Monster in the second. The Hays blast, though, was the last flicker of action from the O’s offense. Sale retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced, and the Boston bullpen took it from there. The Orioles didn’t even get an at-bat with a runner in scoring position until the eighth, when they put two runners aboard only for Cedric Mullins to pop out and Ryan Mountcastle to whiff against Matt Barnes.
A quiet ninth inning put a bow on the latest dud of a performance from the now 100-loss Baltimore baseball club. Welp. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.