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Thursday Bird Droppings: Where the Orioles playoff hopes have grown dim

A 4.5 game deficit with 25 games left to play is a tall order for any team to overcome.

Orioles player Ryan Mountcastle walks off the field after striking out Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hello, friends.

Three freaking hits. The Orioles needed a strong effort against the Blue Jays last night to keep themselves from falling too far back in the wild card standings and all they could muster was three freaking hits and one freaking walk. The team may have made it to September with meaningful games still to be played, but unfortunately, the way they’ve played since Monday has made it where there aren’t likely to be any more meaningful ones coming after this.

Check out Stacey’s recap for the not-so-lovely totals from the 4-1 loss to the Jays. There wasn’t much good to say. Tyler Wells being brought back earlier than expected from his rehab assignment didn’t pay off. Cy Young candidate Alek Manoah was better than the Orioles offense. It wasn’t fun. Despite the new branding around Camden Yards, chaos was not comin’.

So, what now? The John Mellancamp observation, “Life goes on long after the thrill of livin’ is gone” is true also for baseball seasons. The excitement of a playoff chase is over and yet the season isn’t over until October 5. The tragic number - the combination of O’s losses and Blue Jays wins - after which they’ll be eliminated from the wild card race is 22. That mathematical elimination won’t happen for a while, perhaps not even until October.

That said, unless the Orioles start an eight-game winning streak on Friday, there’s just too much ground to pull back. The team had enough talent to get this far but it seems like this is as far as this group could get. The remaining games should be spent figuring out who is really, truly a keeper as the team heads towards a new season where there will actually be expectations from the get-go, rather than an ongoing audition process that brings through a bunch of bad players while trying to unearth some gems.

Who’s worth keeping in a starting rotation where the team goes into the season with playoff aspirations? Is an outfield of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander really good enough to do it? Do the O’s want to try to do better than Ryan Mountcastle’s 2022 performance in their first base/designated hitter positions? Who of the successful relievers can repeat that into 2023 and which of the less successful ones might be able to do better? If they want something better in one of these spots, is an option from within the system viable in the short-term? Or do they need to find something better from outside?

These are the kinds of questions that the team will be answering over the last several weeks of baseball, rather than the much more fun one of, “Can the Orioles earn a wild card spot?” Dating back to August 20, the Orioles have averaged only 3.55 runs per game. They’re 10-7 in those games, so it could be worse, but that’s just not good enough offense to hang around much deeper into the season than now.

There is an off day today where all of this can be digested. A number of hitters certainly seem like they could use the off day, and it won’t hurt the pitching staff either, since that may give them a chance to reset the starting rotation a bit. It still remains to be seen when Jordan Lyles will slot back in after the stomach virus that wiped him out on Monday kept him out of action the last couple of games as well.

The team will be back in action, if you want to generously label the recent pattern of offense as “action,” on Friday at home against the Red Sox. That series opener gets under way at 7:05. Currently expected to start for the Orioles is Austin Voth, with 5.91 ERA and 1.813 WHIP guy Brayan Bello pitching for the Red Sox.

Around the blogO’sphere

For Orioles pitcher DL Hall, teal and orange glove a reminder of how far he’s come (The Baltimore Sun)
With the focus turning away from daily changes to the postseason chase, there are probably going to be more little stories like this. It would be nice if there was room for both.

Orioles to host ‘Thanks Brooks Day’ on September 24 (Orioles.com)
I’ve heard that the original Thanks Brooks Day in 1977 was a fun time.

Hyde explains plan for Wells (plus other notes) (School of Roch)
Manager Brandon Hyde broke down everything that went into yesterday’s pitching decisions in his pre-game remarks. That was a lot of juggling that didn’t end up mattering all that much since the offense only got three hits.

Birthdays and Orioles anniversaries

Today in 2012, the Orioles beat the Yankees to pull into a tie for the AL East lead. However, during the 5-4 win, CC Sabathia hit Nick Markakis with a pitch that broke Markakis’s thumb, ending his season. Would the next month’s ALDS have played out differently with a healthy Markakis, who was the 2012 Orioles team’s highest OBP player? I guess we’ll never know.

There are a few former Orioles who were born on this day. They are: 2014 catcher Nick Hundley, 1985-86 catcher Al Pardo, 1956 one-game pitcher George Werley, and 1958 six-game pitcher Lou Sleater.

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday to you! Your birthday buddies for today include: Battle of Gettysburg hero Joshua Chamberlain (1828), composer Antonín Dvořák (1841), actor Peter Sellers (1925), country artist Patsy Cline (1932), civil rights activist Ruby Bridges (1954), and singer-songwriter Pink (1979).

On this day in history...

In 1504, the sculpture David by Michelangelo was unveiled in Florence. You can still find it in Florence today, though it was moved from its original public plaza into an art museum in 1873. A replica has stood at the original spot since 1910.

In 1900, a hurricane struck Galveston, Texas. The hurricane killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people and left nearly a quarter of the surviving population homeless.

In 1945, the partition of Korea began, with American troops arriving in the southern part of the country in response to Soviet occupation of the north the previous month.

In 1966, Star Trek aired its first episode, “Man Trap”.

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And that’s the way it is in Birdland on September 8. Have a safe Thursday.