As we enter September, there’s 28 games left on the Orioles schedule, 13 at home in the friendly confines of Camden Yards (.642) leaving 15 road games where the O’s have been abjectly horrendous (.439), winning at a clip that many predicted this team would be around overall.
The last month for Birdland has been a ride that would give even the most experienced seamen green in the face. The team has homered its way out of jams all season, but even in August where the team hit 55 home runs, only 13 wins came in the 29 games leaving the team clinging to a tie for the 2nd wild card spot with Detroit.
So as we approach the climax of the season it’s time to ask, when did this all start to fall apart? The lead always seemed frail. The Blue Jays bullpen couldn’t continue to be so bad could it? The Red Sox and Big Pappi were bound for a push in his final summer.
August started with the Rangers and on the road to the White Sox, the Birds were able to take 4 of 6 games here posting some nice wins while keeping the opposition to 15 runs in the 6 games. We saw Dylan Bundy get some starts throwing like we all imagined when he was drafted, some run support out of the gate for Gausman, and Ubaldo pitching well out of the pen.
As the team left Chicago for the west coast though the season starts to slip away, the Orioles inexplicably having a tough time (.357) before the trip against the AL West. Oakland took 3 of 4, the team bounced back as the Giants floundered after the All-Star break and were able to take 2 of 3 from San Fran. But heading back home they took 1 of 6 losing both to the Red Sox and 3 of 4 to an Astros team that swept the Baltimore earlier this year. Giving up 50 runs in 6 games it’s amazing this team was able to pull out 1 win.
The pitching settled and the team took 3 of 4 from the Nats, although the pen really tried to give one up late. But the roller coaster continued as the team only took 2 of 6 (1 each) from the Yankees and Jays. Pitching again the story here as in the last 8 games the O’s pitchers gave up 52 runs in 8 games.
The calendar turns and the team needs to find itself. Tillman should be back this week, after a good simulation outing. The Yankees come to Charm City with Bundy, Gausman, and Miley slated to get the starts. Bundy and Gausman have been coming on strong, though Bundy’s velocity has dropped as of late and Gausman will face Sabathia. Miley had a decent last outing, but overall a disappointment. Gausman needs to go deep on Saturday as Bundy will be out around 6 innings, and if Miley can come out any time after 5 with a lead it’ll be time to get Givens in there to bring it forward.
On the sticks and in the field we’ve probably seen the last of Pedro. He’s been great in the DH spot after starting slowly, but with the additions of Stubbs and Bourn, and Jones coming back expect to see Trumbo head to DH as the team will sacrifice some power for speed and defence.
Where do they go from here? The season and a playoff spot will hinge on the 7 remaining games with Boston and 3 in Detroit. Tillman needs to return strong and the bullpen needs to bail out the rest of one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball. If the team is going to get to October, it needs to start winning some games on the road. The .439 road winning percentage is 11th in the AL, a mere .500 record would have them in a dead heat with Toronto.
It starts with taking 2 at home this weekend.