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Baltimore Orioles

Orioles end 2021 season tied for worst record in MLB after 12-4 loss to Blue Jays, could pick first in 2022 draft

Asked before Sunday’s final game what he most enjoyed about managing the Orioles in 2021, Brandon Hyde began by succinctly describing the season.

“Well,” Hyde said, “it’s been a tough year.”

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The finale, a 12-4 blowout against a Toronto Blue Jays team playing to extend its season, was thus a fitting conclusion. The Orioles (52-110) suffered their second-most losses in franchise history, dropping at least two-thirds of their games for the third straight 162-game season. They finished with the American League’s worst record by eight games, matching the Arizona Diamondbacks for the most losses overall.

Thanks to tiebreakers based on their records in the previous seasons of their rebuilding effort, the Orioles will pick first overall in the 2022 MLB draft barring a change in how the order is determined with a new collective bargaining agreement. The current deal expires Dec. 1.

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Sunday’s game represented the Orioles’ most significant chance to play spoiler in a final month that has featured numerous opportunities. Each of the AL East’s other four teams entered Sunday having won 90 games, and had the Orioles prevented Toronto from securing its 91st, they would have immediately eliminated the Blue Jays from playoff contention. Instead, Toronto completed a season-ending sweep, though its season still came to an end when the Boston Red Sox defeated the Washington Nationals to prevent what would’ve been a tie-breaking Game 163 on Monday for the AL’s second wild-card spot.

“Those guys came out to play all series,” designated hitter Trey Mancini said. “It’s one of the best offenses I’ve ever seen, personally.”

Like much of the season, Baltimore’s pitching let it down Sunday. The Orioles’ collective ERA of 5.85 is the third highest of any pitching staff since World War II. In the 60 years that MLB seasons have featured 162 games, only two teams have been outscored by more than the 297 runs Baltimore was. Their 258 home runs allowed are tied for the fifth most in league history, with the 2019 team’s 305 holding the record by 35.

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“I think for us to compete in this division, we’re gonna have to improve on the mound, period,” Hyde said before the game. “We just have had a tough time pitching the last three years, trying to stay in games.”

They were out of Sunday’s practically immediately. The Blue Jays pounced early and never relented, knocking Baltimore starter Bruce Zimmermann from the game in the first inning and scoring multiple runs off each of the first three relievers to follow him. Toronto leadoff man George Springer homered on Zimmermann’s fourth pitch, walked and scored when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went deep in the second, then hit a grand slam in the third.

“I knew it was going to be a tall order,” Zimmermann said. “This team is playing for their life.”

Baltimore pieced together a handful of runs, with Tyler Nevin’s 442-foot solo shot being the longest an Oriole has hit for his first career home run since Statcsst began tracking in 2015. Yet at one point in the middle innings, a “Let’s go, Nationals” chant broke out in Rogers Centre’s left-field stands, fans’ attention shifting to other games of importance with the result of the matchup in front of them seemingly secured. The call returned around the stadium in the ninth, with Boston and Washington tied late.

After the Blue Jays completed the victory, the Red Sox broadcast was put on the Rogers Centre scoreboard. Almost immediately, Rafael Devers hit what proved to be a game-winning home run for Boston, eliminating the Blue Jays and setting up a wild-card matchup with the New York Yankees. The winner will play a best-of-five series with the division champion Tampa Bay Rays.

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Baltimore went 20-56 against AL East teams, which has only gotten stronger during Hyde’s three-year tenure guiding the major league team during this organizational rebuild. He has often said he was aware this process would be a challenge when he was hired but admitted Sunday “until you’re sitting in the chair, you don’t know how hard it’s gonna be.”

“These four teams in this division aren’t going anywhere,” Hyde said pregame. “They’re extremely talented. Three of them have huge payrolls. And we just need to continue to get better. It’s not a lightswitch, throw-a-ton-of-money-in-one-year situation. It’s a total process, and I know that’s a buzzword, but that really is what it is. It’s a process that takes a little while, and it probably takes longer in this division because of who you’re facing 80 games of your 162.”


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