The Orioles were expected to experience some struggles this season as the front office forges ahead with a rebuilding plan.
Those challenges have arrived early this season.
After being swept in a doubleheader by the Seattle Mariners April 15, the Orioles have lost eight of 10 games and are 5-8 on the year.
The issue is not so much the losing, but how they are dropping games.
The Orioles have faltered defensively (six errors) and are striking out at an alarming rate (123 strikeouts). Starting pitchers have struggled to go deep into games. Most recently, the team managed just seven hits in the doubleheader against Seattle (4-2 and 2-1 losses).
The players are trying to stay positive, according to starting pitcher Bruce Zimmermann, who took the loss in the second game after allowing two runs in five innings.
“It’s the beginning of a very long season,” Zimmermann said. “Some guys are getting going, other guys are finding their way, and it’s just about getting that chemistry in the clubhouse, which I think is really coming along. So, I don’t think there’s anybody pressing too much about how it’s going.”
Harvey ‘Frustrated’ About Performance
Starting pitcher Matt Harvey couldn’t hide his frustration.
Even though he has kept the Orioles in a position to win the game in each of his three starts, Harvey wants to do more for the team.
In the first game of the doubleheader against the Mariners April 15, Harvey allowed two runs on three hits in 4.2 innings, with a Mitch Haniger home run in the fifth inning doing all the damage. He also allowed one walk, hit one batter and struck out three in the 4-2 loss. The three hits were the fewest he has allowed in a start since he gave up two hits in seven innings on April, 28 2019 at Kansas City.
Harvey is now 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA with nine strikeouts, two walks and a 1.55 WHIP. He is still looking for his first win since July 13, 2019.
“I’m pretty frustrated,” Harvey said. “I feel like that game should have been 2-0 and I should have been out there the whole game. I think after the second I kind of got a little nitpicky, I guess, around the zone, got behind some hitters. The counts were in the hitters’ favor a little bit too much, I thought, and it’s frustrating. I feel like I should be in that game in the seventh inning and there shouldn’t be any runs on the board.”
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been pleased with Harvey’s performance thus far. The key for Harvey is to go deeper in the game; he has pitched into the sixth inning just once.
“I thought he threw the ball really well into the fifth inning and then gave up the two-run homer there with two outs,” Hyde said. “Fastball was 95-96. He was in total control into that fifth inning. I don’t think we knew what to expect [this season]. I know he had a good spring training. I like the way he threw the ball in the spring, was hoping it was going to carry over to the season and it has.
“He’s kept us in the game three times and had a chance to win today’s game, as well as the other two games that he started. He’s done a nice job for us. Now we need to swing the ball a little bit and get some run support.”
Mullins’ Hitting Streak Ends
Center fielder Cedric Mullins has been one of the hottest hitters in all of Major League Baseball.
Entering the doubleheader against the Mariners, he had hit in every game this season and was tied for the MLB lead with 17 hits. However, Mullins went 0-for-3 in the first game against Seattle April 15. That ended his hitting streak at 15 games, which dated back to last season.
Hyde said Mullins has done a solid job staying ahead of opposing pitchers. That’s a challenge for all of the young players on the rebuilding club.
“You see Cedric making adjustments,” Hyde said. “His swing is different than it was when I saw it two years ago, and that’s just going to be a continual thing is that, guys that are going to be part of championship clubs, you’ve got to make adjustments to this league because it’s so hard.
“And we’re going to have guys go through that this year and you hope that they deal with adversity the right way. And we’re going to be positive for them.”
Outfielder Ryan Mountcastle also snapped a six-game hitting streak.
Kremer An Option For Saturday
Starting pitcher Dean Kremer is looking to get on track this season. He has not pitched past the third inning in either of his starts this season. He is 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA and has eight strikeouts and five walks.
Because the Orioles had two doubleheaders against the Mariners this week, the club has yet to decide who will start against the Texas Rangers April 17. Kremer could pitch that game on short rest, according to Hyde, because he only threw 54 pitches in his last outing against the Mariners April 13.
“We’re considering Dean, as well as some other options,” Hyde said. “We’re going to talk it over a little bit more. … Just because he only threw 54 pitches and he feels ready to go, we’re going to consider that.”
Sceroler On IL
Orioles reliever and Rule 5 pick Mac Sceroler was placed on the 10-day injured list after experiencing tendinitis in his right shoulder.
“I think we’re encouraged by the test results and that we’re hoping it’s not going to be too long,” Hyde said. “He’s a young guy that was trying to manage it.”
Sceroler had a solid debut against the New York Yankees on April 5 with 2.2 scoreless innings. However, he struggled in his next appearance against the Boston Red Sox six days later when he allowed three runs, including two homers, in just one inning of work.
As a Rule 5 player, Sceroler must remain on the big-league roster all year or be placed on waivers. If he were to clear, his former team, the Cincinnati Reds, would have the opportunity to take him back.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles