After scrapping away all season long to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Orioles’ October ambitions were dealt a fatal blow over their latest ten-game road trip as they finished the stretch with a 2-8 record. The positives? Austin Hays and Chance Sisco both hit their first career home runs in the Bronx. That’s about it.
The fact that it was the Yankees that served the proverbial ”Knockout blow” to the Orioles’ playoff hopes over the weekend doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. At 73-77 with twelve games remaining on the calendar, the Orioles can officially start planning their golf outings and cruises.
One sole culprit is not at fault, either. The Orioles starters have posted a 6.39 ERA over their last twenty games, the bullpen’s sparkling form faded down the stretch, and the bats pulled a Houdini act.
That’s putting it lightly. After boasting the league’s best offense for most of the second half, the Orioles have hit a dreadful .225 as a unit over the past seventeen games while barely scoring three runs a game (3.2 per game). They’re hitting a woeful .176 (19-for-108) with runners in scoring position during that span as well.
One sole individual is not at fault, either. Over the past two weeks, only four hitters are batting above .200. Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, and Welington Castillo. I’d share some of the stats with you all, but I’d rather not since it was a group failure. You win as a team, you lose as a team. That never changes.
But in reality, these Orioles were unable to improve upon (or hide) their flaws this season, mainly their lack of quality of starting pitching, sporadic offensive performances, and their inability to win against quality ballclubs or on the road. The O’s also never seemed to fully recover from their early-season free fall back in May/June.
Add it all up, and the result is a postseason-less campaign. While the Birds will look to end the year on a high note, the real focus will be on the several tough decisions that will have to be made in the off-season.
Long story short, the 2018 Orioles squad might be missing a few familiar faces on Opening Day. Cherish these next twelve games.
And for those that are now screaming for a total overhaul: be careful what you wish for.