The Inevitable Bird-Dive...
That's Nick Markakis, one of my favorite baseball players, reacting after yet another strikeout. Yesterday, I tuned in to the Orioles/Twins game after four innings. The score was tied at one all (the O's eventually lost, for their seventh defeat in their last ten games), but it really wasn't that close. A quick look at the box score told the tale of the tape: the Twins had one strikeout, and the Orioles had five (don't know what the final tallies were in that respect).
This team just isn't built for contact. In some ways, they're like the old 1980s-version of the Orioles--when Earl Weaver liked to get some ducks on the pond and hope for the three-run dinger.
But with windmills like Chris Davis, Mark Reynolds, and Jim Thome sucking up important at-bats at a crucial time in the season, what do you expect?
I expect losses.
Even though the Orioles are in the thick of it for the revamped wild card, dreams of winning the AL East are gone. The Yankees are damned good, and that early-season hiccup they experienced isnow barely a memory. They're pitching well, getting some timely hitting (that jack from Ibanez two days ago as exhibit A), and not beating themselves. I read yesterday that Mariano Rivera, who blew his knee out on May 3 (!!!!), might actually be entertaining a return to the team for the playoffs.
I care deeply about the Orioles, but I don't like what MacPhail or Duquette have done to our lineup. We need some run scorers, and our run producers need to be younger and more selective at the plate. The problem with the Orioles is that, when the hitting is on, the pitching is dreadful.
Well, this year the inverse is true. Our bullpen has performed admirably, and until Jason Hammel went down, we had a decent starting rotation.
I'm hoping we'll still have a shot at the wild card in a month. Who knows? Maybe Weaver's ghost will shock the O's into a couple of three-run blasts.
But when we can't get over on the Twins and we get swept by teams like Detroit and Los Angeles, which are at the forefront of the race, it just doesn't look good...