The All-Star break is coming to an end after the American League claimed a 2-1 victory over the National League. This is a time many players use to spend with family, joke around with their peers or to just get away from the grind all together. The Baltimore Orioles, more than any team, needed this time to do a hard reset after a dismal first half of the season. With only one All-Star representing the team this year, the other “Stars” for the Orioles now need to step up for this team to make the playoff push.
Just a year ago, the Orioles had set an MLB record for most home runs in the month of June with 56 and finished with a 19-9 record for the month. Flash forward to 2017 and you find a team long removed from that home run record. By the end of June, The Orioles tied the dubious 1924 Philadelphia Phillies for most consecutive games allowing 5 or more runs. Finishing April with a 15-8 record, the Orioles entered the All-Star break by only having a 27-38 record over the last 2 months. With the second half approaching, what is on the horizon for the Orioles?
The one star that is still shining is the newest one to emerge. Jonathan Schoop, who just played in his first All-Star game, represented well by hitting a 2 out double and scoring one of the two runs that lead to an American League victory.
The All Stars from 2016 that were missing in 2017 were Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo. Adam Jones ended June with a .267 batting average after struggling in May and appeared to start getting back on track. Manny Machado is having a tough time getting hits this season with a .191 average in May and a .242 average in June.This time last season Trumbo had 23 home runs, compared to his only 14 now.
The Orioles will have the best opportunity to right the ship after the break. The Orioles will have a 10 game home stand against the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros in which they can get the bats going. As bad as the starting pitching has been for this team the lack of run support is glaring as well. In order for the Orioles to get back into the race they have to start scoring early and often.
The remaining schedule sets the Orioles up with more road games than home and 8 combined series’ with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The bright side is that it’s an even 4 home and 4 away series split against their AL East rivals because only the top two teams out of that division will have the best chances of making the playoffs. Third place may get the O’s a Wild Card spot but if they play with that mindset, they’ll find themselves on the outside looking in.
It is well known that this Orioles team can play better than they are right now. The old saying goes “everything goes right when you’re winning and nothing can seem to go right when you’re losing” and that’s where the Orioles stand right now. The Orioles are going to need to make Camden Yards a nightmare for road teams and pray for quiet crowds when they play away. The urgency can’t be understated with this team because if they flounder, Peter Angelos, the front office, and Buck Showalter are going to have to answer some tough questions.