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Consistency: Always a Problem for the Birds
Posted By Alex Van Rees On Jun 5 2011 @ 5:19 pm In Baltimore Orioles | 3 Comments
I am an avid Baltimore Orioles fan and have been ever since I attended my first Oriole game at Camden Yards back in the late 1990’s. I anxiously wait all winter for the grass to grow and the freezing cold air to turn into a nice spring breeze as I pray for a winning season in Baltimore.
But, every year since I began tracking the team like a hawk, they’ve failed to have a winning season let alone make a playoff run. I thought that this year would be different because Showalter’s already familiar with the team from the remaining two months of last year and it’s his first full season with the Birds. The Orioles have the same problem as always: consistency.
The major problem this year for the Birds has been their inability to consistently put up solid numbers on the scoreboard and help their pitchers. When the Orioles win it’s because they are hitting the ball and driving in their teammates, but when they lose, it’s not their pitching, but it’s their lack of offense for the most part.
Let’s breakdown the statistics both pitching-wise and offensively during the recent five-game winning streak and their most recent five-game skid.
Starting Pitching (During the Winning Streak)
Overall, the Baltimore starters have been effective this season for the most part. During the O’s five-game winning streak, Oriole starters tossed 31 innings, over five games, and surrendered only 10 earned runs (2.90 ERA).
Over that stretch, all five Baltimore starting pitchers threw at least five innings, and four of the five mustered through at least six innings, averaging 6.2 innings per start. The O’s starters are going to need to continue to pitch into the seventh inning so they can save their bullpen and pitch as consistently as they did during the win streak.
Oriole starters recorded only two wins, in part due to come from behind wins, including a late-inning affair.
Oriole starters only allowed two homeruns in 31 innings pitched, while walking a mere eight batters and striking out 21 opponents. The most runs an Oriole start surrendered in a single game was five to Kansas City, and that was a 12-inning contest.
Starting Pitching (During the Losing Skid)
Although the Oriole pitching stats are higher during the five-game losing streak, that’s understandable and even expected. But, their numbers are by no means something to be disappointed with.
The Oriole rotation tossed 26 innings, surrendered 13 earned runs over five games, which averages out to be a 4.50 ERA, which is still respectable and just above the average in the American League last season, which was 4.14.
Baltimore starters allowed the same number of hits (34) during both streaks, but they pitched five less innings during the losing streak, averaging 5.2 innings per start, which is still respectable. But, like I said earlier, they need their starters to carry them into the seventh inning.
The starters struck out three more batters (24) in five less innings than they did during their winning streak, but they also walked five more hitters (13) during the skid. The rotation allowed the same amount of homeruns (only 2) over five games.
Relief Pitching (Dominating)
If you were impressed with the rotation’s numbers as the Orioles over that stretch, the bullpen’s stats are even more staggering. Over 17 innings pitched, Oriole relievers allowed 10 base hits, one earned run, four walks, 11 strikeouts and they didn’t surrendered a single homerun.
Oriole relievers threw 15 consecutive scoreless innings over four games from May 22nd to Maybe 26th. Over their winning streak, the Oriole pen sported a collective 0.53 ERA and three different relievers won a game, while closer Kevin Gregg saved his eighth game in 11 chances.
The pen did not surrender a single homerun, and even though they faced the Nationals, who do not hit too many homeruns (MLB average is 50, both the Orioles and Nationals have currently each hit 50 bombs) and Kansas City, which has hit less homeruns than the average (46), not allowing a single homerun over a five-game stretch is impressive.
Relief Pitching (Still good numbers)
As for Baltimore relievers, their numbers were still very solid during over the course of their winless streak. O’s relievers threw for 14 innings, giving up five earned runs, which equates to a 3.21 ERA.
Although they allowed five earned runs, the pen did not allow a run in the last three games over the course of eight innings of work (no relievers were used in the last game as Guthrie tossed a complete game).
The pen did, however, allow two homeruns over this stretch to two teams who are near the bottom of the list in the American League as the Mariners have only hit 33 shots and the A’s have only knocked 32 homeruns out of the park. That is something for the bullpen to work on, but it’s not a huge concern.
Hitting (Riding the Win Streak)
As for the Oriole bats, they too were hot. Over the five games, the O’s collected 52 base hits, which is 10.2 hits per game, including five homeruns from four different Birds. They crossed the plate 30 times averaging six runs per game. If they could be consistent and score on average close to six runs a game, they would win many more and be in contention.
An important stat, which is not examined as often as it should be, is two-out RBIs. Throughout their winning streak, the Orioles had four instances of two-out RBIs; an essential tool for winning teams is the ability to score with two outs. That’s one area where the Orioles can improve as most hitters struggle with RISP, besides catcher Matt Wieters of course.
The Birds left 31 runners on bases, which averages 5.17 runners per game. The Orioles need to capitalize on their chances as they could have scored 10 more runs easily, and that’s only 33% of their opportunities.
So, those were the pitching stats during the winning streak when the Orioles looked unstoppable, as everyone was clicking on all cylinders and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong; that was until they landed in Oakland.
Hitting (Losing Skid)
The main reason I see the reverse of fortunes for the Birds out on the west coast was their bats. It seems as if every time they make the flight out to the west coast and they add three hours to their days, they play flat and not like themselves. It looks as if they are tired and their bodies can never readjust to the time difference.
During the losing skid, the Birds only collected 35 hits, averaging seven per game and they only crossed the plate 13 times, which is a mere 2.6 runs per game. No team can win consistently if their team is only scoring 2.6 runs per game.
The loss of both Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts at the same time was a major killer for the Birds. Lee was finally heating up at the plate, and Roberts, as all Oriole fans know, will come around and put up his numbers in the end.
The Oriole bats only belted two homeruns, one in each of the first two games in Seattle, as they could not hit one out of the Coliseum in Oakland. They left more runners on base (34) during the streak, which is to be expected.
But, the major concern for the Birds during the losing streak was their ability to drive in runners with two outs. They only had one two-out RBI in the five games they lost out west and they had more than six base runners left on each game.
Execution is another aspect where the Orioles need to improve upon. It seems as if Matt Wieters in the only player on the team with the ability to hit with runners in scoring position, who is hitting .487 and still leading the Major Leagues in average.
So, in order for the Orioles to be more consistent and string together wins more often than loses, the Orioles hitters are going to need to step it up at the plate. Lee should be back sometime next week, as his rehab was delayed a bit due to a death in his family. Roberts should be back within the next two weeks, and hopefully he will be able to recharge the lineup.
If the Orioles are going to be a competitive team in the gridlocked AL East, players like Roberts, Reynolds, Lee and Scott are going to need to be more consistent and drive in runs on a regular basis. The Orioles, just like any other team, cannot survive and win off of less than three runs a game. In this day and age, a team needs almost five runs a game to consistently win games.
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