Time for the Baltimore Orioles To Get Off the Roller Coaster

Dean HyblAnalyst IJune 10, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 06:  Pitcher Jason Berken #49 of the Baltimore Orioles waits to be taken out of the game with teammates Gregg Zaun #9 and Melvin Mora #6 in the fourth inning of their game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum on June 6, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Anyone needing a reminder of how quickly things can change in professional sports need just look at the recent roller coaster ride of the Baltimore Orioles.

Hard to believe that it was just 10 days ago when the Orioles were riding high after winning seven of eight games to climb within five-and-a-half games of the lead in the American League East.

The major league debut of top prospect Matt Wieters on May 29 had Baltimore buzzing and resulted in the largest crowd at Camden Yards since opening day.

Luke Scott stole the show that night with two home runs to lead Baltimore to their fifth straight victory, and seventh in eight games.  

Adding to the excitement was that three of the victories in the streak were by rookie pitchers recently added to the Orioles’ rotation.

Even though the homestand ended with consecutive losses to Detroit, the general feeling was that the infusion of young talent—both on the mound and in the field—had revitalized the Orioles, and could potentially propel them toward their first winning season in more than a decade.

Fast-forward ahead one week and, after a trip to the West Coast, the Orioles return to Baltimore as a team in freefall.

The first West Coast trip of the season was not a kind one for Orioles, as they were outscored 32-10 while losing five of six games.

Baltimore won the opening game of the trip 1-0 behind the pitching of Rich Hill, but the pitching staff allowed 32 runs in the next five games. During the weekend series in Oakland, two of the three Orioles’ starting pitchers didn’t make it out of the first inning, and the third gave up nine runs in less than four innings.

After hitting .270 and averaging 4.9 runs per game during the first two months of the season, someone evidently forgot to take the bats with the Birds on their trip out west.

Baltimore hit .214 in the six games against the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s. Among Orioles’ regulars, only Adam Jones and Luke Scott hit above .250 during the trip.

To make things even worse, the team lost starting shortstop Cesar Izturis to a non-baseball injury during the trip. He underwent an emergency appendectomy while the team was in Oakland.

Following their abysmal trip, the deflated Orioles couldn’t get back to the friendly confines of Camden Yards soon enough. So far in 2009, the Orioles are 16-13 at home, and certainly hope that winning trend will continue during their current nine-game homestand.

No team in baseball has a greater differential in offensive production between home and away games so far this season than the Orioles.  

Through their first 29 home games, Baltimore has hit .300 and averaged 5.3 runs per game. Conversely, the team is hitting .229 and averaging 3.8 runs per game in 28 games away from home.

Though now 9.5 games out of first place, and a season-high nine games under .500, the Orioles are still certainly capable of regaining the momentum they had before their trip out west.

Maybe then the Orioles could get off the roller coaster, and instead display the kind of consistent success they will need if they ever want to become serious contenders in the toughest division in baseball.

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