Baltimore Orioles at Critical Crossroad in 2012 Season

James MorisetteCorrespondent IIIJuly 17, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 16: Miguel Socolovich #58 of the Baltimore Orioles reacts to giving up a walk to the Minnesota Twins during the third inning on July 16, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

If Monday’s 19-7 barnyard slaughter by the lowly Minnesota Twins is not a wake-up call for Dan Duquette and the Baltimore Orioles, I do not know what is.

While time still exists to right the ship, this team’s 2012 season has officially been thrust into concerned/emergency mode.

Going into Monday’s game, Baltimore had a half-game lead in the AL wild-card race, per Now, the Orioles are on the outside looking in, replaced by a red-hot Detroit Tigers team.

Nipping at Baltimore’s heels are five clubs that are one hot streak from putting the Orioles out of their misery.

While it is true that Buck Showalter and Co. are still in the mix, Baltimore’s magical flight is quickly sliding into a tailspin.

Lack of starting pitching is destroying a bullpen that has been stellar this season. Poor defensive play has not helped starting pitchers get through tough stretches in games. Offensively, Baltimore has been awful, especially with runners in scoring position.

But it was not just that the Orioles lost to the Twins on Monday. It was how they lost.

The Minnesota Twins are one of the worst teams in baseball. But the Orioles made this team look like the 1927 New York Yankees, i.e. Murderer's Row.

Chris Tillman, recently called up from Double-A, could not get through the first inning. Tillman lasted just 0.2 innings, giving up seven runs on five hits.

As usual, the Orioles defense did little to help its starting pitchers. For example, with two outs in the first inning and the Twins up 1-0, first baseman Mark Reynolds made yet another error, which cost Baltimore two runs.

By the time the Orioles came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, they were already down 7-0.

Strange but true, of these seven runs, just one run was earned.

The nightmare merry-go-round continued during the rest of the game, as Minnesota pounded out hit after hit against Baltimore’s bullpen, in what looked like a big-league team playing a Single-A team.

Twenty hits to be exact, and seven of nine players for Minnesota had multi-hit games. Ben Revere and Justin Morneau both had four hits for the Twins. Denard Span went 3-for-5 with five RBI.

For the Orioles, Nick Markakis (3-for-5), Adam Jones (3-for-4) and Mark Reynolds (3-for-4) had nine of the team’s 13 hits. Reynolds had four RBI, three coming on a homer in the top of the fifth inning off of Scott Diamond.

With this loss, the Orioles face a plethora of difficult questions that have been asked over and over again.

But at the end of the day, the bottom line is this: Duquette needs to pull some strings. And he needs to do it fast, before this team backtracks to the point of no return.