After going through the whole business week without a win, the Orioles finally snapped out of their losing slumber by picking up two huge wins and a series split in Minneapolis over the weekend before hitting the All-Star Break.
On the other hand, it kind of sucks to have to park the bus for the next four days just as the Orioles were starting to break on through to the other side.
That’s how it goes sometimes, and while I’m sure the coaches and players will enjoy their time off before kicking off a busy second half, it’s a bittersweet feeling to have to touch back down right after taking flight again.
The Orioles will resume their season 7.5-games off the pace of the first place Red Sox, but they remain just four games out of the wild card picture. Contrary to popular belief, the Orioles are still alive.
We’ll just have to hope that they can pick up right where they left off this past weekend.
That shouldn’t be a problem. The Orioles will kick off the second half of the season with a ten-game home stand, and we all know how much they love playing in front of the sea of orange. If they can come out of the break with the guns blazing and go on a tear, they’ll be right back in the thick of the chase for October baseball.
Crazier things do (and will) happen. Just don’t stop believing.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly go over the final week of the first half and highlight what the Orioles need to do in order to force their way back into the playoff picture.
– After a few stellar pitching performances at the end of June, Orioles starters fell back into their frustrating ways to begin the month and finished the first week of July with an 8.81 ERA over 31 2/3 innings. Over the last fifteen, thirty and forty games respectively, they’ve posted combined ERA’s of 5.59 over 77 1/3 innings, a 7.86 ERA over 145 1/3 innings and a 7.18 ERA over their last 198 innings. Long story short, these types of performances must improve in order to maintain a playoff push through the second half.
– Maybe they should take notes from the bullpen. The O’s relievers ended the first half in sparkling form after notching a 1.88 ERA over 14 1/3 innings in Minnesota and a stellar 1.71 ERA over their first 26 1/3 innings of work in July. Over the last sixteen games, they’ve finally returned to their iron-clad ways and have recorded an impressive 2.93 ERA over their last 58 1/3 innings of work. Here’s to this feel-good trend continuing after the festivities in South Beach come to a halt.
– Lastly, despite hitting just .209 as a unit while scoring just 22 runs over their previous nine games (2.4 per game) before landing in the Twin Cities, the Orioles hitters put on a vintage “Birdland Power Company” performance over the last four games of the first half and finished the series versus the Twins with a stellar .304 batting average as a unit while driving in 26 runs (6.5 per game) along with eight homers. It’s a shame that they have to put their charged-up bats on ice, but here’s to hoping that they remain charged up and ready to go against the reigning (and stumbling) champion Chicago Cubs on Friday. They’ll need their bats to lead the way if they have any hope of playing meaningful baseball in September.
Now, let’s go to the ”Three Stars” of the week! Drumroll, please……….
Trey Mancini. Seriously, will the Orioles rookie sensation ever cool down? After finishing the first half by going 6-for-17 (.353) with an RBI versus the Twins, “Boom Boom” ended the first half on fire and will look to extend a current seven-game hitting streak when the season resumes against the Cubs. During that span, Mancini has gone a ridiculous 11-for-29 (.379) with three runs, three doubles and an RBI.
Mancini concluded his phenomenal first half with a sparkling .312 batting average, fifteen doubles, fourteen home runs, 44 RBI and a .354 OBP. The sky is the limit for this Orioles slugger.
Mark Trumbo. Probably the most irritated guy on the team to see the season put on hold, Trumbo was really starting to kick it into high gear before the All-Star Break rolled around.
Still, an in-form Trumbo will look to extend his current eight-game hitting streak when the All-Star Break concludes on Friday. During that stretch, Trumbo has gone 8-for-29 (.276) at the plate with five runs, two doubles, three home runs and five RBI.
Manny Machado. Okay…I lied. Machado is probably the most frustrated guy in the clubhouse to have to park the super-charged bat he showed off in Minneapolis. He finished the series versus the Twins having gone a staggering 9-for-19 (.474) at the plate, a clip which raised his season average from .215 to .230.
Still, the on-fire Machado will kick off the second half on a current six-game hitting tear. During his current streak, Machado has gone a remarkable 11-for-27 (.407) at the dish with four runs, two doubles, two home runs and six RBI.
Here’s to Machado keeping this up and leading the way during the second half.
That’s it, Orioles nation! While we’ve certainly been through our ups and downs (a lot of downs lately), we made it through a rocky first half with our vital signs still intact. I wouldn’t rule out a resurgent second half, either, so buckle up! It’s going to be a wild ride.
Enjoy the All-Star Break festivities, everyone!