MINNEAPOLIS — As his team struggled to manufacture runs over its past eight games, manager Buck Showalter was quick to point out that the Orioles lead the majors hitting with runners in scoring position.
After going 5-for-54 with runners in scoring position over the past eight games, the Orioles have now dropped to third in the majors in that category with a .297 average. They sit behind the Toronto Blue Jays (.301) and Colorado Rockies (.299).
Here's an interesting caveat. Even though the Orioles are third in the majors with runners in scoring position, they are ranked 17th in the majors with a runner on third and less than two outs. Anyone who watched the Orioles on their recently completed road trip to Chicago and Minnesota saw how poorly they did in those situations.
After losing five of six on the road trip, the Orioles have lost eight of their past 10 games overall and enter today's day off just one game over .500. The Orioles will play three games at home against the first-place Washington Nationals before next week's All-Star break.
"I think we were playing good baseball a couple weeks ago and we ran into a good team in Texas and sometimes it just kind of snowballs on you like that," Orioles right fielder Chris Davis said. "You just have to do whatever you can to move forward. I think the off-day will be huge tomorrow and then get back home and get in front of our fans and hopefully get a few wins."
Here's some obvious analysis: The Orioles must play better on the road in the second half of the season if they are to be taken seriously as a contender. The Orioles are nine games below .500 away from home (17-26), and get this, their 17 road wins are second-fewest in the American League (Chicago White Sox, 16).
The Orioles are 24-20 against AL East opponents, the best record in the division, but they are just 15-17 against the rest of the AL. They've lost their last three series to non-division AL opponents: Texas, Chicago and Minnesota.
Despite the Orioles' recent skid, they are still in tied for second place in the AL East, just 2 ½ games out of first place. The division's first four teams – the New York Yankees, Orioles, Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays – are a combined 11-29 in their past 10 games. And don't look now, but the Boston Red Sox are just five games out of first place after winning eight of 10.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon - who was voted in by the fans to start in the All-Star Game - suffered a groin injury in Wednesday night's game against the Rays. He won't play in Tuesday's game, and that means that Orioles center fielder Adam Jones might now start in Gordon's place.
Jones, who was selected for his fourth straight All-Star Game and fifth overall, was a players' selection for Tuesday's game. Because he was the second-leading vote-getter among AL outfielders in the players' vote – he trailed only Mike Trout – he would seem likely to move into the starting lineup after Gordon's injury.