Talking Behind Their Back: Angels
The Angels blew through town to pull off a quick two-game sweep of the Orioles but in a strange wrinkle, it wasn't necessarily poor pitching that doomed Baltimore, but rather missed offensive opportunities.
In the first game, the Orioles jumped out to a 3-2 lead after three innings, yet despite amassing 12 hits in the game, the team could only muster five runs. Baltimore had Los Angeles's most consistent pitcher (Joe Saunders) on the ropes but was unable to finish the job. Conversely, the Angels were more than capable of banging out five runs off of Adam Eaton.
In Game 2, the Orioles had the bases loaded with no one out in the first inning against a pitcher that hadn't won a major league game since 2003 but only managed to score one run. Twice in the game catcher Chad Moeller led off an inning with an extra base hit but failed to score either time. Meanwhile Koji Uehara was in control for most of the day.
Los Angeles's Shane Loux probably shouldn't have made it past the fourth inning had Baltimore cashed in on its opportunities, instead he got his first win in six years while Uehara took the loss and was even injured in the game after taking a comebacker in the chest.
So how has an offense that was so opportunistic in the early going of the season become so pedestrian? Well the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly sees the issue being in the bottom third of the team's lineup.
In short, catcher Gregg Zaun, left fielder Felix Pie and shortstop Cesar Izturis have not been very good. How bad have they been? The Orioles 7 through 9 hitters have a combined average of .189, good for last in the major leagues - yes, even behind national league teams that have to bat a pitcher.
On the plus side for the O's, the team's top of the order is still producing but when there's three glorified automatic outs at the bottom of the order, you're not going to win games.
Of course the Orioles couldn't have picked a worse time to suffer through a power outage as the team travels to Toronto for a three-game set against the AL East-leading Blue Jays. Toronto is coming off of its first series loss of the season (to the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals) and sports the majors' best offense, leading all teams in runs, hits, average, doubles and RBI. The Orioles meanwhile sport the third worst ERA in all of baseball.
This does not look good for Baltimore as the team looks to pull out of a 3-10 skid.
Add to that harrowing bit of news the fact that the Blue Jays have Roy Halladay and some slightly above average pitchers and suddenly you've got a fairly competitive team.
Tonight's series opener will pit perennial Cy Young candidate Halladay against Mark Hendrickson. On paper, the Orioles stand a chance in the other two pitching matchups but with a struggling offense and mediocre pitching facing the league's best lineup, it's not too hard to picture the Jays running the Orioles out of Toronto on a rail.
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