I tried to take all of the well-reasoned, articulate arguments to heart.
This year was not going to be like 2005, because that team was full of over-performing veterans who were getting lucky.
This year was not going to be like 2005, because that team was managed by a guy with no track record in the Majors, while this year we have Buck Showalter at the helm.
This year was not going to be like 2005 for any number of reasons that I – and other O’s fans – wanted so desperately to believe about a month or so ago as the team continued to hover ~10 games above .500 approaching the All-Star break.
Well, one week after the All-Star Game, 2012 suddenly feels nauseatingly familiar in its similarity to 2005.
The O’s got smacked around in Minnesota last night to the tune of 19-7, a game in which starting pitcher Chris Tillman lasted a mere 2/3 of an inning. Not exactly the way he wanted to follow up the near-complete-game shutout he tossed in his last major league outing just before the break.
That’s right, the Minnesota Twins embarrassed the Birds this time. Not the hard-hitting Texas Rangers or powerhouse New York Yankees, but the Twinkies, who entered the game with an American League-worst 36-52 record, and a MLB-worst -89 run differential.
Those guys made mince meat out of our once-upstart Orioles.
The wheels appear to be coming off the O’s 2012 season in rapid, spectacular fashion.
The last high point on record for the Birds came in late June, when they took two of three from the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. Since that series, they are an abysmal 6-17 over their last 23 games.
Yet, as ugly as that 6-17 mark appears, the way they have gone about it is even UGLIER. The stretch has been marked by blowout losses and skin-of-their-teeth wins.
Four of their six wins over that stretch were by one run; the other two were two-run victories.
They’ve lost by 12 runs TWICE over the same stretch.
It’s been over a month since the O’s last won a game by three or more runs (June 16 in Atlanta, 5-0).
Over those last 23 games, the Birds have been outscored by a grand total of 72 (!!!) runs, or an average of over three per game.
I honestly never thought I’d see the team perform this incompetently under Buck.
They can’t hit, can’t get on base, can’t run the bases competently once they get there, can’t hit with runners in scoring position, can’t field, and can’t pitch.
Oh, and their best starting pitcher just had knee surgery and will be out for who knows how long.
And yet…they remain three games above .500, and right in the thick of the American League Wild Card race.
That’s what the Orange Kool-Aid drinkers will tell you. They’ll say that the Birds could rebound and take three of four in Minnesota, and perhaps this 19-7 stomping will be seen as just the kick in the pants they needed.
While I obviously hope that is the case, and that the Birds can put this disgusting stretch of play behind them, nothing in the recent past suggests that there is even the most remote chance that will transpire.
The .500 mark is rushing up from below to meet the Birds at break-neck speed. The question doesn’t seem to be “if” they will hit it, only “when.”
And after they do, how much further will they fall?