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Thursday Bird Droppings: The Orioles won a road series but things still feel grim

Before the Toronto series, we’d all have been happy with two out of three. Yesterday’s loss wasn’t fun anyway.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, friends.

The thing about the Orioles being in the crowded AL wild card race is that there are not going to be any good days to lose for the whole rest of the season. Yesterday was especially poor, with the Orioles once again getting perfect gamed through six innings only to end up with a total bullpen collapse in a 6-1 loss to the Jays. Check out Paul Folkemer’s recap of the game for the not-so-lovely totals. Seriously, it stunk.

The Orioles could have, with a win, pulled into the third AL wild card spot. Instead, they fall 1.5 games behind the Jays. They’ve also lost ground to the Mariners, putting the first wild card spot farther out of reach. What’s more, the Orioles were passed in the standings by the Twins, who beat the Royals yesterday. They must pass at least two of those teams while holding off the White Sox and even the Red Sox.

What now? The Orioles are 61-56. They are on pace to finish with 84 wins. Compared to last season’s win total of 52, that’s a huge marker of progress, but now that they’ve gotten this close as surprise mid-August contenders, it would be a bummer to come up just short. 84 wins is almost certainly not going to be enough for one of the wild card spots.

Some projections, including PECOTA and FanGraphs, see 85 wins as a possibility, but it could be more like the Orioles would need 87 wins. That would be a 26-19 record the rest of the way, against what is still one of the harder schedules anyone will face, especially now that even the Red Sox have rebounded somewhat and are back up to .500 rather than rapidly falling out of the wild card race.

Today would also be a bad day for the Orioles to lose! In this case, that’s because this afternoon’s 3:05 game is one of the few games against a non-contender that remains to the team. The Orioles have a rainout makeup at home against the Cubs, who are 49-67 this season. That’s one the O’s need to win to keep themselves from falling farther back in the wild card pack. Spenser Watkins is set to start the game for the Orioles, with Adrian Sampson pitching for Chicago.

Around the blogO’sphere

The upcoming winter should also be filled with excitement in Birdland (Steve Melewski)
Steve is reacting to Mike Elias’s Sunday radio interview, in which he added to his earlier “liftoff” comments by saying, among other things, “We plan to explore free agency much more aggressively.” Could the Orioles actually... do that? Maybe pitchers won’t be scared off now that the new wall is out there.

Voth emerging as rotation stalwart for the O’s (
Austin Voth had basically the only good storyline worth writing about for the Orioles yesterday, so that’s exactly what did.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards to open sports lounge for bettors in 2023 (The Baltimore Sun)
The Orioles sent out a press release yesterday announcing a partnership with a sportsbook in a to-be-determined (or perhaps to-be-announced) area of the stadium next year. My guess is Dempsey’s. This announcement unambiguously proclaimed that it would be a place to do sports betting:

The sports lounge will be highlighted by a social atmosphere, including food and beverages, as well as a comfortable seating for fans to enjoy the game and place live sports bets. It will feature the amenities and viewing experience of a live sportsbook with the ability to place bets from the palm of your hand.

Seems pretty clear to me, although apparently the Orioles director of public relations later told The Baltimore Sun, “This will be a themed sports lounge; however it is not a place where sports betting will take place.” Without even having been emailed the above paragraph, I have some amount of skepticism that a partnership with “SuperBook Sports” - advertised in the announcement as “home to the World’s Largest Sportsbook in Las Vegas” - is not intended to be a place where sports betting will take place.

Under HB940 that passed in Maryland last year (read for yourself; pages 19-20), the Orioles are eligible to apply for a license to operate sports betting at the stadium, or as it’s defined in the legislative text, “The owner, or the designee of the owner, of a professional Major League Baseball franchise that is a lessee of a stadium in Baltimore City.” (Carveouts also exist for the NFL’s Ravens and Commanders, and for any future NBA, NHL, or MLS team that may come into being in Maryland.) So, again, I find some degree of skepticism for the “clarification” that suggests that the announcement - which, mind you, came directly from the team - was in fact completely wrong. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

The most recent Orioles victory on this day came four years ago. The 2018 squad beat Cleveland, 4-2. Alex Cobb pitched a complete game for the Orioles, and future Oriole Adam Plutko tossed seven innings for Cleveland. Cedric Mullins hit the first home run of his MLB career in the game. He’s hit 47 more since that day.

There are a pair of former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2011 reliever Josh Rupe, and 1954-55 reserve Bob Kennedy.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: explorer Meriweather Lewis (1774), baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente (1934), actor Robert Redford (1936), Maryland-raised actor Edward Norton (1969), and K-pop rapper G-Dragon (1988).

On this day in history...

In 1868, the element helium was discovered. Pierre Janssen, a French astronomer, is credited with the discovery.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which guaranteed women the right to vote in the US. Ratification occurred upon approval by Tennessee, the 36th state to do so; Maryland had rejected the amendment earlier in 1920 and eventually ratified symbolically in 1941.

In 1940, during World War II, British and German pilots fought what Churchill called “The Hardest Day” of the Battle of Britain. Germans launched overwhelming air attacks with the aim of destroying British fighters to facilitate a naval invasion of Britain. About 60 British aircraft were lost, but only 11 pilots were killed; the Nazis lost about 70 aircraft but saw 94 pilots and crew killed and an additional 40 captured. The Hardest Day itself did not swing the month-long air battle either way; the British eventually preserved decisive enough air superiority that the Germans abandoned their planned invasion.


And that’s the way it is in Birdland on August 18. Have a safe Thursday. Go O’s!