The Orioles’ offensive struggles this season — they have scored six runs in their first four games — have to be examined with the understanding that the sample size is small. So while the team’s inability to score is troubling, the players see no reason to panic.
“It’s the first four games. That’s what I see,” said third baseman Tim Beckham, who has one hit in 15 at-bats. “We’re going to keep going out there. We’ve got 158 more to go and no one around here is pressing. Just want to play some good baseball. Win some, you lose some. It hasn’t went our way in the first three or four games. But like I said, there is 158 more and we’re only four games in. No one is pressing.”
In recent years, the Orioles have been a team that slumps in unison, and that’s what’s happening now.
The team batting average is just .134.
Manny Machado — hitting .231 — is the only everyday player above .200. No Oriole has more than three hits. Five players account for 12 of the team’s 17 total hits.
It’s been a rough start for the lineup all around.
“Everyone goes through it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We don’t like it to happen. We want it to change yesterday, but you tip your hat to the opposition and you try to have the right amount of empathy for the challenge that it takes to play here. What are you going to do? Sit Manny or sit [Jonathan] Schoop or make changes in the lineup. That’s pretty hypocritical, quite frankly.”
So while Showalter might tinker with the batting order, don’t expect him to make mass changes.
“You’ve got to trust your people,” Showalter said. “They’ve done it for you. The last thing they need to see is a coach or a manager or someone they’re around all the time throwing everything out the window that they’ve done for us. They’ll do it.”
In Monday night’s 6-1 loss to the Houston Astros, there were distractions abound. During a pregame ceremony in which the Astros unveiled their World Series title banner, Orioles players lined up along the third base line for more than 10 minutes.
Trey Mancini’s homer in the ninth inning ended a stretch of 17 straight scoreless innings for the Orioles dating to Beckham’s two-run homer in the ninth inning Saturday.
While breaking ball artist Charlie Morton held the Orioles to three hits over six scoreless innings, it wasn’t the dominant outing that the Minnesota’s José Berrîos had Sunday or the six no-hit innings the Twins’ Kyle Gibson threw Saturday.
But the Orioles didn’t barrel many balls up, their only two coming in the ninth inning on Mancini’s homer and Colby Rasmus’ ensuing double. Before those hits, Beckham’s seventh-inning groundout was the only ball that came of the bat at more than 100 mph.
Beckham said it’s just a matter of time before the Orioles start getting more consistent hard contact.
“Shoot, you barrel up one ball in the gap and then you’re rolling,” Beckham said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes, to barrel up one ball, and for everyone to barrel up one ball, and then boom, you’re hot. And once we get hot, just pass the baton and keep playing good baseball and we’re going to win for sure.
“Just continue to put together good at-bats. Keep grinding out good at-bats. Like I said, it’s four games and it’ll turn. It’ll definitely turn. We’re a great ballclub and we’ve got good hitters and we’re going to hit. It’s just a matter of time and once we get going, we’ll get on a roll and we’ll have some fun.”