On June 10th the Orioles scored seven unanswered runs and shut out the Tampa Bay Rays , pulling within one game of the .500 mark. At 30-31 Baltimore was still in contention in the American League East. Since then, the Birds have won only 15 games and they’ve dropped to 26 games behind the Eastern leading Red Sox entering Thursday’s play.
What has been the Birds major problem area over their horrendous stretch causing them to lose 38 of their last 53 games? Orioles fans recognize a trend that has been prominent over the last 13 seasons – struggling pitching continues to be the Birds’ downfall.
Not only has their pitching suffered over the last two months (or 13 seasons), but their offense has not been able to produce the way they did in April. For the purpose of this article, we’ll stick to analyzing their deficient pitching statistics.
Overall Pitching Woes
Over the Orioles’ two-month slump (since early June), they’ve struggled to string together back-to-back wins - let alone more than two victories in a row. The Birds have not won more than two games in a row since June 6th- June 10th when they were firing on all cylinders and won four games in a row (something an Orioles fan can only dream about as of late).
Not only have the Birds failed to string together wins, they’ve only been able to win back-to-back games on two occasions - once on June 19th & 20th (against Nationals and Pirates) and against the Indians July 16th & 17th.
The Orioles have excelled at stringing together losing skids on multiple occasions. From June 11th to the 15th, they dropped four in a row against the Rays and the Jays – and that’s only the start to their troubles.
From June 28th- July 2nd, they lost five games in a row in interleague action at the hands of the Cardinals and the Braves. Their longest losing streak of the season occurred from July 5th – 15th (including All-Star break July 11th to the 13th) after they dropped nine in a row against the Rangers, Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.
Not only have the Birds accumulated a four game, a five game and a nine game losing streak over their last 53 contests, they’ve also shown a great talent for stringing together three different three game losing streaks.
The Birds’ staff has allowed seven or more runs 20 times since June 10th and surrendered double digit runs in seven contests (88 runs in those 7 games alone = 12+ RPG). Over the same stretch, they’ve allowed 328 total runs, which is by far the most in the majors (6.2 RPG – including earned and unearned runs).
Now, let’s break down their pitching stats month by month.
The Birds began the month of June on the right foot by winning six of their first eight games. Over those precious eight contests, the pitching staff only allowed 20 earned runs in 72 innings, which equates to a 2.50 ERA. This trend at the beginning of June looked promising but wouldn’t last.
After June 10th, Orioles pitchers tossed 154 innings over the course of the rest of the month, and they surrendered 92 earned runs in just 17 contests, or a 5.38 ERA. They finished the month with a 4.46 cumulative ERA coupled with 11 wins and 14 losses.
Overall in June, the Birds pitching staff allowed 235 hits in just 226 IP and surrendered 32 HR – striking out 161 while walking only 85 (which is their best statistic- not saying much). They ranked 26th out of the 30 MLB teams in pitching that month.
Jake Arrieta pitched the best for the Birds throughout June as he won three games and only lost one with a respectable 3.28 ERA over 24.2 IP. Relievers Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez were the top three pitchers on the staff as their ERAs were sub two in the month, but they only picked up two wins combined.
Besides Arrieta, the rest of the Orioles starting pitching staff compiled only five wins in June, while losing 10 contests. They pitched to almost a six ERA (5.95), allowed 72 ER in just 109 IP.
If you thought June was tough, July was a complete nightmare. Baltimore won only 7 of the 27 games played and their pitching stats reflect their record.
The Birds’ staff sported a 6.17 ERA in 229 IP as they surrendered 157 ER and 302 hits in the month (5.07 was the second highest team ERA). The next highest number of earned runs allowed in the month was 131 by the Rockies. The second highest number of hits given up was 258 by the Jays- but their team ERA sat at only 4.42.
The Orioles’ staff ranked last in the majors in pitching throughout July and 12 of the 30 MLB teams surrendered less than 100 earned runs. The Birds’ staff gave up more than double the amount of runs that the Chicago White Sox’s staff allowed in the month (77), which was the lowest in the majors.
Not only was their ERA and record atrocious in the month, but the Orioles’ .317 OBA, 40 HR allowed and 1.72 WHIP were all worst in the majors. Not one other team’s opponent batting average was above .275 – or 42 points lower than the Birds’ (the Dodgers’ sat at .218).
As for homeruns allowed, the Indians’ staff surrendered the second highest number of moon shots at 32 while the Rockies and Athletics gave up 30 HR each. The Birds’ WHIP was 25 points higher than the next-closest team (Houston Astros with a .147 WHIP).
Not one Orioles’ starting hurlers won more than two games in the month, while alleged ”ace” Jeremy Guthrie won two games in a month for the first time all season. He led the team in wins (2) and losses with five.
Only two of the Orioles’ pitchers tossed the ball well in July and one of those hurlers was shipped away at the trading deadline. Koji Uehara pitched masterfully as he did not all a single earned run over 12 innings of work. Johnson allowed five earned over 14.2 innings (3.07 ERA), which is his highest this season.
Guthrie sported a 4.79 ERA in the month and that was the fourth lowest on the pitching staff. The rest of the 13 pitchers who spent some time with the club, pitched to ERAs above 4.80, and 12 of them recorded ERAs above five!
Orioles and the fans especially were enthusiastic to see the calendar pages turn to August - although the staff’s fortune has not improved much over the dog days yet. The Birds are 3-6 this month with a 4.61 ERA over 80 IP.
The Orioles staff has allowed 90 hits and 41 ER(46 overall) while opponents are hitting .282 this month. Baltimore is ranked 23rd in pitching with the lowest number of earned runs allowed this month by the Phillies (26).
They’ve only allowed 7 HR through the first nine games, which is not that low, but are on pace to surrender fewer homeruns than last month. Their WHIP is a respectable 1.29 so far, which is also on pace to be an improvement over July.
Although they have been pitching a little bit better this month, the results still are not there for the Orioles. They’ve won only three of the nine games played this month and at this rate, they’re only on pace to win about nine games in August.
Check out my next article as I’ll delve into the Birds’ offensive woes since the beginning of June and analyze what’s been the problem with their bats and where their season is headed.
Follow me on twitter: Alex_VanRees
Statistics were compiled prior to the start of Thursday night’s game vs. the White Sox
About the Author
Written by Alex Van Rees
I am 22 years old and I recently graduated from James Madison University this May with a BA degree and a major in journalism. I live in Reston, VA, about 20 minutes outside of Washington. I am looking for an entry-level position with a sports media company where I can demonstrate my writing, interviewing and technical skills to better the organization.