Here we are in the first week of May, and thanks to the scheduling geniuses at MLB we are seeing the second and final matchup between the Mariners and Orioles for the entire season. It's a bit of a mess.
When we last saw the O's, it was raining in Baltimore and the clubs had to play a pair of shortened doubleheaders. Seattle took three of the four games, which was to be expected as the Orioles are, well, not a good team. Aside from center fielder Cedric Mullins, nobody in the Baltimore lineup is remotely scary, and while their bullpen is pretty decent, the starting pitchers are plenty hittable except for ace John Means, who will pitch Wednesday. The birds have a few interesting players in their flock, and at some point this storied franchise will turn things around. But for now they're a bit of a mess. The rumor mill suggests that the club is in serious cost-cutting mode as ownership awaits the opportunity to sell, a goal complicated by the failing health of longtime CEO Peter Angelos, an ongoing financial battle with the Washington Nationals over regional TV rights, and, of course, the looming expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players' union—no one wants to buy a team on the eve of a potential work stoppage.
First baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini, who did not play last year because he was receiving treatment for stage three colon cancer, had been the best player the Orioles have, but he's off to a rough start, batting just .243 with a sub-.300 on-base mark, though he does lead the team in RBIs. Then there's Mullins—the only Oriole hitting well (.320/.380/.514)—and still-technically-rookie outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, who not only has one of the greatest names in baseball but also an MVP Award to his credit (from the Triple-A International League in 2019); his rookie season has been a bit anemic, though. Somehow the O's won two of three from the A's in Oakland in their last series, and Means only pitched in one of them, so anything can happen.
|vs. AL West||6-7|
Who’s Hot & Not
Last ten games
.325/.372/.450, 1 HR, 9 RBI
.310/.362/.571, 3 HR, 5 RBI
.353/.371/.559, 5 XBH, 4 RBI
.179/.233/.286, 9 Ks
.225/.279/.350, 11 Ks
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|4/15/21||SEA 2, BAL 1|
|4/15/21||SEA 4, BAL 2|
|4/13/21||BAL 7, SEA 6|
|4/13/21||SEA 4, BAL 3|
|9/22/19||BAL 2, SEA 1|
|9/21/19||SEA 7, BAL 6|
|9/20/19||BAL 5, SEA 3|
|6/23/19||SEA 13, BAL 3|
|6/22/19||BAL 8, SEA 4|
|6/21/19||SEA 10, BAL 9|
|6/20/19||SEA 5, BAL 2|
Brandon Hyde: Now in his third year as Baltimore's manager, Hyde would make Earl Weaver proud in that Hyde uses small-ball tactics even less than the late Oriole legend did. On the other hand, he's won a lot fewer games. He did manage the Southern League (Class-AA) Jacksonville Suns to a championship in 2009, but in the bigs he's had nothing but losers (unless you count his year as Cubs first-base coach in 2018).
When asked if he saw an end point for the Orioles' rebuilding effort, he declined to give any kind of timeline. "I know that it takes a while," he said. "It takes time, and it takes drafts, and it takes international signings, and it takes trades for younger players who then have to get there. I’m fully aware of that." It also takes at least some kind of stability in the upper management area, and with Baltimore's in a kind of minimalist holding pattern, "a while" might continue for years to come for Hyde and the O's.
Shawn Armstrong: A Mariner in 2018, Armstrong was DFA'd by the M's in early 2019 and claimed on waivers by the Orioles about the same time the Mariners traded a low-level minor leaguer to Baltimore for Mike Wright, making a non-trade near-real-time exchange of ineffective relievers. Armstrong has stuck with the Orioles while Wright was cut loose by the M's within weeks; in last year's mini-season, Armstrong was about the best the Baltimore ’pen had to offer, though the innings were few (just 15). In ’19 he was not the same guy, posting and ERA over 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.546. It remains to be seen which version will materialize in 2021.
|Baltimore Orioles||(1954 - present)|
|World Champions:||1966, 1970, 1983|
|League Champions:||1944, 1969, 1971, 1979|
|Division Titles:||1973, 1974, 1997, 2014|
Chris Davis: Of the American League's Chris/Khris Davises, Baltimore's version has seen the highest highs and the lowest lows, from All-Star and MVP candidate with league-leading homer and RBI totals to arguably the worst hitter in baseball. Chris-Davis-With-a-C, or White Chris Davis, signed a mammoth contract extension after the 2015 season that continues through next year. Since signing him to that extension, the Orioles have paid him over $115 million for an aggregate batting line of .196/.291/.379. (For contrast's sake, Khris-Davis-With-a-K, or Black Khris Davis, has been a little better at .240/.316/.495 for Oakland during that time.) Davis injured his back in spring training and will be on the injured list through next month most likely. Whether that's good or bad depends on your particular brand of Oriole fandom, I suppose.
On the air: The Orioles have replaced their entire broadcast crew this season, jettisoning one of the two best play-by-play announcers baseball had to offer in Gary Thorne. Why? Who knows, even Thorne isn't sure, but it has to be money. Thorne is top-level, he commands coin, and the O's are all about pinching pennies right now. With Thorne out of a big-league booth, at least for now, San Francisco's Jon Miller can lay sole claim to the title of best play-by-play broadcaster in the Majors all by himself.