The Baltimore Orioles are 14-15 since the All Star break and are sitting 5 1/2 games out of first in the AL East and four games back of the second wildcard spot. What has gone wrong for the Orioles since the All Star break?
Baltimore has obviously struggled in the win column since the break and have lost some ground in the standings because of it, but what exactly has triggered this?
Is it the offense? Well, the Orioles offense has the seventh best batting average in baseball since the break, so they are getting hits, but their on base percentage is in the bottom half of the league, thus their walks are down. With fewer runners on base, everything would tell you that the team is scoring fewer runs, but their 134 runs since the break are good for eighth best in all of baseball.
Here is the telling stat, the O's, although have been scoring runs, are scoring half a run less per game since the break, and that number may not seem like a lot, but it basically means the Birds score one less run every other game and one run less in half of your games are huge.
What about the pitching? The pitching has greatly improved believe it or not, before the All Star break, the Orioles had the third worst ERA in baseball, but since the break, they boast a 3.91 ERA, which is almost half a run better than their 4.39 ERA before the break.
So if the pitching is allowing a half run less per game, and the offense is scoring half a run less per game, how do the Orioles have a losing record since the break? The answer comes down to their inability to pad a lead, but more importantly, their inability to keep a lead once they have one.
On a more individual basis, before the break, the Orioles had three guys carrying the offense in Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Manny Machado, but the story has been different since. Jones and Davis are still producing and are dependable bats in the lineup, but since the All Star break Machado is batting .240 with four home runs, four doubles and 13 RBI in 29 games. Prior to the break, Machado was hitting .310 with 39 doubles, seven home runs and 45 RBI in 96 games. Baltimore will need Machado to regain some of his form from earlier this season if they want to make a run at a playoff berth.
Despite ranking fourth in all of baseball when batting with runners in scoring position, it certainly seems like the Orioles struggle in that department, but let us tell you why that feeling is, more specifically with a runner on third and less than two outs. Nick Markakis has struggled with extra base hits this season, but when he comes to the plate with a runner at third with less than two outs, he is hitting an abysmal .208, which is certainly not good, but when you add that he has the second most at bats in that situation on the team, it is even worse.
It wouldn't be a truth article if Jim Johnson was not mentioned in regards to the Orioles post All Star break blues. Johnson has a 3.09 ERA since the break, but has blown three of his nine save opportunities, posted a 1.71 WHIP and opposing batters are hitting .357 against him.
The good news is that despite all of this, Baltimore still has a legitimate chance at making the playoffs because of the amount of games they have remaining against the teams in front of them, but if they do not turn things around soon, it may be to late.
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