By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
7:20 AM EDT, June 20, 2012
There is a built-in explanation for why the Orioles suffered consecutive shutouts on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since 2005.
The New York Mets' pitching.
The Orioles had to face knuckleball extraordinaire R.A. Dickey on Monday and then former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana on Tuesday.
So, yeah, tough pitching, says Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
“We’ve been swinging the bats OK,” Showalter said. “You’re going to have some ups and downs, usually that correlates to a quality pitcher on the other side. That’s not the first time Dickey and Santana have pitched well this season and it won’t be the last.”
But look a little deeper into the numbers, and it’s not all good pitching. On this five-game road trip so far – which remember does not include the designated hitter or No. 3 hitter Nick Markakis, who has been on the DL since June 1 – the Orioles have scored just nine runs. And that’s after a barrage of offense at home against the Phillies and Pirates in which the Orioles scored 44 runs in six games.
This road trip has been a whole lot of offensive failing. Only once have the Orioles scored more than two runs in a game. In fact, they have scored two or fewer in six of their past seven road games and been shut out three times in that span.
Yes, they are missing Markakis, and when you take away the DH, you now have two holes in the lineup. And that makes a difference, especially away from Camden Yards.
But these Orioles have struck out 42 times in their last five games. They are third in the majors in home runs hit and first in strikeouts. That all-or-nothing approach can really hurt when it’s nothing – especially Tuesday night when they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Good pitching or not, guys have gotten into a collective funk: On this road trip, Chris Davis is 0-for-14, J.J. Hardy is 2-for-20, Mark Reynolds is 1-for-15 and Brian Roberts is 3-for-15.
Heck, Matt Wieters was hitless in eight at-bats on the trip before two doubles Tuesday.
Baseball is a cyclical game. Last week at home the Orioles put up pinball scores. Now, they haven’t scored in 21 innings.
On Wednesday they get righty Dillon Gee, who has made six quality starts in a row but owns a pedestrian 4.43 ERA.
Gee is solid, but he is not Dickey or Santana. So Wednesday’s game needs to be about the Orioles’ offense, and not the Mets’ pitching. That explanation can only hold for so long.
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