xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Impatient hitters, struggling middle relievers have Orioles in a slump

Chris Parmelee #41 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts to striking out against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of the game on July 8, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Orioles 5-3.
Chris Parmelee #41 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts to striking out against the Minnesota Twins during the seventh inning of the game on July 8, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Orioles 5-3. (Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

If you're an Orioles fan, you're probably wondering how a team that was sizzling hot in June could cool off so quickly and completely in early July.

There isn't an easy answer, except the obvious one.

Advertisement

The O's are playing a lot of bad baseball right now in just about every facet of the game. The hitters aren't hitting. The bullpen has suddenly become undependable. The starters can't overcome the lack of run support.

The result of all that is a team that has lost its swagger and needs to get it back by doing the things that got it to the top of the American League East standings in June.

Advertisement

Let's start with the hitters and a piece of philosophical wisdom that might help: Impatience is the enemy of success.

When things are going badly, hitters have a tendency to try and do too much. The O's hitters already lean in that direction during the best of times, but they clearly are making the least of way too many at-bats right now.

Case in point: They had a couple of big opportunities in the early innings of Tuesday night's game and came up empty in their first five at-bats with runners in scoring position. That's going to happen once in awhile, but it was pretty obvious that nobody was interested in what Buck Showalter likes to call "passing the baton."

Chris Davis, for example, was ahead 3-1 on the count with two runners in scoring position in the first inning and struck out. He led off the fourth inning and jumped ahead 2-0 on the count against Twins starter Kyle Gibson, then struck out on the next three pitches -- every one of them well out of the strike zone. The strike zone graphic said it all. He simply got himself out at absolutely no risk to the Twins.

The Orioles have an advance scouting problem, and it isn't their advance scouts. It's the opposing scouts who have known for a long time that the big hitters in the Orioles lineup can't resist a 2-0 or a 3-1 pitch, so opposing pitchers know that they don't have to throw a strike in those situations.

If you doubt that, try to remember the last time an Orioles hitter got a fat 2-0 pitch. Or, for that matter, try to remember the last time an Orioles hitter hammered a 3-1 pitch. The word is out and the only way to get a fastball in a fastball count is to let everyone know that you won't dive for a bouncing slider every time you're in a hitter's count.

The bullpen situation is a little less glaring. All-Stars Zach Britton and Darren O'Day keep chugging along, but the middle guys have been struggling.

Tommy Hunter kept falling behind hitters in Monday night's extra-inning loss until Brian Dozier finally walked him off. Bud Norris has taken the loss in his last two relief appearances, once because of a walk that turned into a winning run and Wednesday because of a walk and a couple of fat pitches that left the ballpark.

Chaz Roe got off to a great start after being called up from Norfolk, but has been knocked around in three of his last four outings.

Throw in some short starts and some sketchy fundamentals and the Orioles just don't look like a Buck Showalter team right now. It's hard to look like anything good when you're losing eight of 10 games, but at least nobody else seems to want to take control of the AL East.

Maybe this weekend's interleague series against the Nationals will be an elixir, because August is a long way away.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Advertisement

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement