Groundhog Day: Starters exiting early, runners stranded
In watching the Orioles-Cardinals game Wednesday night, you half expected comedian Bill Murray to come out of the dugout and make a pitching change in the fifth or pop up with the bases loaded in the seventh.
This is becoming another Groundhog Day season in Baltimore.
You can pretty much sum up the Orioles’ woes in two simple statements: The starters can’t go deep into games, which taxes the bullpen; and the hitters can’t consistently produce with runners in scoring position, which taxes everyone who has carved out three hours to watch.
You don’t need to know anything more than those two nuggets. Except maybe the year. Is this 2011 or 2009 or 2006 or 2003?
These have been the Orioles’ two most consistent problems during this 13-season-plus losing skid.
And right now those weaknesses are challenging each other for the forefront.
Consider these stats:
The Orioles were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and are 9-for-61 (.148) in that situation in their past seven games. They are .262 with runners in scoring position this season -- which is OK -- and that shows just how bad they have been during this slump.
With Chris Jakubauskas’ five-inning outing Wednesday, the Orioles have now had just one starter who has lasted seven innings or more in their 24 June games. They’ve had no starter go over seven innings in that span, and only four times have they had a starter record an out in the seventh.
You can talk about demoting pitchers and juggling the lineup, but the fact is if your starters can’t consistently throw strikes and your offense doesn’t take advantage of run-scoring situations, you aren’t going to win many games.
And there’s not another cavalry on its way, folks. For the most part, this is what you’ve got.
So the hope is that this group can figure it out. That these young pitchers -- and veteran Jeremy Guthrie -- push deeper into games. And their so-called established hitters -- we’re talking to you Vladimir Guerrero (.222 RISP), Derrek Lee (.137), Luke Scott (.222), among others -- need to step it up.
If not, well, expect Bill Murray to be at Camden Yards through the summer.