clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Friday Bird Droppings: The Orioles’ offense is in a bad way

As the O’s desperately try to remain in playoff contention, several of their biggest bats have fizzled down the stretch.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox
Neither Ryan Mountcastle nor Austin Hays has had many hits to celebrate in the past month or two.
Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

It was a bleak day in Birdland yesterday, as the Orioles suffered a close loss to one of the few bad teams they’ll get to face for the remainder of the season, the Cubs. John Beers recapped the Birds’ futile makeup game, which was lowlighted by several late missed scoring opportunities. With the loss, the O’s dropped 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays — who defeated the still utterly useless Yankees — for the final Wild Card spot.

And to think: those who doubted the Orioles’ ability to stay in contention mostly pointed to the unproven starting rotation, claiming that the O’s didn’t have enough pitching to stay in the hunt. But if the Birds do indeed fall off the pace, it may actually be their offense that does them in.

Yesterday’s loss was their fourth straight in which they scored two or fewer runs. They were stymied by an opposing starting pitcher yet again, and with all due respect to the Cubs’ Adrian Sampson, a journeyman spot starter with a career 4.88 ERA isn’t the kind of guy who should be shutting out the Orioles over six innings.

Several key members of the Orioles’ lineup have been mired in prolonged funks. Ryan Mountcastle entered yesterday with a .162/.240/.252 line and just two home runs in his last 28 games. Austin Hays, perhaps playing through pain, has fallen off dramatically since his great first two months, batting a woeful .180/.232/.273 and two homers in 35 games dating back to June 28. And Ramon Urias, whose season OPS climbed as high as .778 less than a month ago, saw that number dip below .700 yesterday after a 20-game stretch of a .169/.208/.239 performance.

With the offense in dire need of a spark, the drum beat has naturally grown louder for the Orioles to summon a highly touted hitting prospect or two from Triple-A Norfolk. The #1 prospect in baseball, Gunnar Henderson — currently posting an .899 OPS, and capable of playing every infield position — is a name on many fans’ minds, as is outfielder Kyle Stowers (.884 OPS, 19 home runs). It’s certainly worth thinking about, even if the two might need an adjustment period to acclimate to major league pitching. Their left-handed bats could certainly give the Orioles more of a fighting chance against right-handed pitchers until Mountcastle, Hays, and Urias pull out of their slumps.

Mike Elias generally doesn’t make decisions on MLB promotions based on the short-term needs of the club, so don’t expect to see Henderson and Stowers called up just because the O’s offense is scuffling. He’ll promote them when he feels they’re truly ready. But as the Orioles’ hopes of playoff contention start to slip away, in no small part because of a lack of thump, it’s hard to wait much longer for help to arrive.


With rotation going strong, bats falling short -
The Orioles are well aware that they need to start swinging the bats better, but don’t have any particular remedy other than to keep doing what they’re doing and hope things change. I wish I could find that more encouraging.

Answers to your Oriole questions, Part 1 -
Rich Dubroff answers questions from readers, including a couple who advocate for more playing time for Tyler Nevin and Richie Martin. What do you think this is, 2021? We can do better, people.

Q&A with Orioles RHP Spenser Watkins: On pitching, music and never giving up - The Athletic
Among the many interesting factoids I learned about Watkins in this interview, he has the calendar date of his first date with his wife tattooed on his finger. Oh great, now all of us husbands who didn’t get tattoos of our first date look like jerks.

Orioles’ farm system ranked No. 1 in baseball after trade deadline and draft acquisitions - The Baltimore Sun
<insert Homer Simpson drool gif>

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And a very happy 40th birthday to J.J. Hardy, one of the core members of the Orioles’ 2012-2016 postseason clubs and Camden Chat’s 34th greatest Oriole of all time. Hardy was a three-time Gold Glove winner, a mentor to Manny Machado and other young infielders, and posted three 20+ home runs seasons with the Birds, all while being very handsome. Truly a renaissance man. Enjoy your day, J.J.!

Hardy is one of a whopping seven former Orioles born on Aug. 19. The others: right-handers Lance Cormier (42), Rocky Cherry (43), Luis DeLeon (64), and Paul Mitchell (73); the late infielder Jim Finigan (b. 1928, d. 1981); and Baltimore-born righty Jim Lehew (b. 1937, d. 2016).

The O’s are in a bit of an Aug. 19 slump — they’ve lost the last seven games they’ve played on this date. Their last win came in 2015, when seldom used outfielder Henry Urrutia crushed a walkoff home run — the first and only homer of his major league career — to beat the Mets, 5-4, on a delightful night at Camden Yards. Urrutia’s career didn’t last long, but he’ll always have that moment to cherish.

One year later, the O’s seemed to be on their way to another enjoyable victory, crushing four home runs in the first inning before the first out was recorded. They were the first team in modern MLB history to accomplish that feat, as Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo ambushed Astros starter Collin McHugh. But the Orioles’ Wade Miley immediately coughed up five runs of his own in the second, leading to an eventual 15-8 defeat.

On this date in 1980, the Orioles’ Steve Stone became the first 20-game winner in the majors that season, defeating the Angels, 5-2. Home runs by Eddie Murray, Doug DeCinces, and Dan Graham supported Stone, who went on to win the AL Cy Young award.

And on this day in 1983, the O’s swept a doubleheader against the Royals to move into first place in the AL East, one game ahead of Milwaukee. The Birds pulled off a dramatic comeback in the opener. After the Royals’ Gaylord Perry carried a no-hitter and a 4-0 lead into the seventh inning, the O’s tallied three hits and two runs in the eighth, then rallied for another three runs off Dan Quisenberry in the ninth for a walkoff win. Lenn Sakata’s RBI single ended it.