Weaknesses Magnified as Baltimore Orioles Get Off To Slow Start

Dean HyblAnalyst IApril 12, 2010

BALTIMORE - APRIL 09:  Felix Pie #18 of the Baltimore Orioles slides safely into home plate in the eighth inning ahead of the tag of John Buck #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays on Opening Day at Camden Yards on April 9, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

If there is any consolation from the tough start for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles, it might simply be that they at least can’t match the start of the 1988 Birds.

Of course, that squad set a Major League Baseball record for futility by dropping its first 21 games on its way to a miserable 54-107 record.

The 2010 Orioles already have one victory, but following their three-game home sweep at the hands of the only team in the division predicted to be worse than the O’s, things are not looking bright in Baltimore.

Entering the season, everyone knew that the Orioles were facing a difficult April schedule. The Birds play 13 games this month against the three teams favored to finish ahead of them in the AL East, the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox.

In addition, they have a tough six-game road trip to the West Coast where they will play at Seattle and Oakland.

The three home games against Toronto seemed like the best chance the Orioles would have during the month to create some momentum.

Instead, the Orioles posted three disappointing performances that could come to serve as perfect illustrations of the struggles for the O’s.

The first game looked like it might provide the Orioles with exactly the momentum they needed.

Baltimore rallied from an early deficit to lead 6-5 entering the ninth inning. However, for already the second time in this young season, new closer Mike Gonzalez proved incapable of closing the deal as he gave up two runs in the ninth inning in a 7-6 loss.

The expected strength for the Orioles this season is their lineup that is among the best in baseball from top to bottom.

However, they didn’t look so imposing against journeyman pitcher Dana Eveland in the second game of the series.

Eveland allowed only five hits in seven innings and the Blue Jays bullpen proved capable of sealing the deal in a 3-0 victory.

The final game of the series highlighted all weaknesses for the Orioles.

Offensively, the Birds’ scored twice in the first inning, but then were held without another run for the final eight frames.

Veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood allowed only one run through seven innings, but a defensive miscue by new third baseman Miguel Tejada with two outs in the eighth inning gave the Blue Jays new life, and they capitalized with back-to-back home runs to take the lead.

Trailing 5-2 in the ninth inning, the Orioles started the inning with a hit by Matt Wieters, but the second double play grounder of the day by the Birds ended the brief rally.

Wieters has been the one bright spot for Baltimore so far this season with a .409 batting average. However, only one other starter (first baseman Garrett Atkins) is hitting better than .267 so far this season as the vaunted bats have been quiet.

If the Orioles are going to steady the ship and avoid a disastrous April, the offense must put more runs on the board and the bullpen must figure out how to get the final outs needed to post a victory.