By Matt Vensel
10:30 AM EDT, June 22, 2011
The Orioles, as the old saying goes, let the game bounce through their legs on Wednesday, losing, 5-4, to the Pirates after rookie second baseman Blake Davis got beat five hole on a hard ground ball and gave away the game-winning runs. The Orioles dropped the three-game set, the fourth consecutive series they have lost.
But this one stung a little bit more, and it wasn’t because of the Baltimore-Pittsburgh civic rivalry. As Peter Schmuck has preached on his blog, the last-place Orioles needed to beat the Pirates in this week’s battle of baseball’s biggest losers “because of the sad state of baseball in both towns and what it says to fans when you're selling a turnaround and you can't beat the [National League] version of yourself.” But the Orioles let the Pirates off the hook by walking themselves down the plank, plunging deeper in the AL East standings.
"I definitely feel like it was a missed opportunity," said Orioles starter Zach Britton, who took the loss on Wednesday after allowing five runs (three earned) in six innings. "With the division that we're in, we want to be able to compete, and we have to come out and take two of three from these teams. They've been playing really well, but we've been hitting well enough and pitching well enough to beat these teams."
The Orioles have suffered through 13 consecutive losing seasons, and at 33-39, we might have to tack on another one at the end of the summer. Meanwhile, the Pirates, who reached .500 with Wednesday’s win, are on 18 straight losing seasons and counting, which is a record for futility in major American professional sports.
Like the Orioles, the Pirates have been bogged down by poor management, draft busts and disappointing free agent signings (as an added kicker, Pittsburgh ownership hasn’t ponied up the cash to sign the few players that have actually panned out). And like the Orioles, the Pirates are now rebuilding around pitching.
Both teams still have a long way to go to return to respectability and relevancy, but each can see light at the end of the tunnel. So which team will get to the promised land -- a winning season -- first?
Your turn: Will the O's finish above .500 before the Buccos?
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