Whoever planned the schedule for this week has some kind of sense of humor, with the White Sox hitting the bird teams. All we needed was the Blue Jays to complete the trifecta.
Bringing this back up because the story is always good for a laugh:
Spotted this guy on the train in Tokyo. Asked, “How ‘bout dem O’s?”— Ryan Dorsey (@ElectRyanDorsey) May 18, 2019
Very dryly he responded in a German accent, “Oh. I see. It’s because of the, uh [points at hat]. I just like the duck. I think it’s cool.” pic.twitter.com/9k0LR62jFj
2020 Orioles: 25-35 (fourth in AL East)
For one of the first times in a very long time, the Orioles did not end the season dead last in baseball (that honor was reserved for Pittsburgh). Also, due to the truncated schedule the Orioles did not lose more than 100 games, and their 25-35 record was their best 60-game stretch since 2017. The only thing that didn’t happen for Baltimore in 2020 was a trip to the postseason, which they missed for the fourth season in a row.
The Orioles were also without Trey Mancini for the season. He left during spring training to get a malignant tumor removed from his colon, and took the season off to undergo treatment for stage 3 colon cancer. He was declared cancer-free in November and has returned for the 2021 season (happy news all around!)
Orioles fans had a lot to be happy about last season. In spite of their patented ability to field Some Guys™, there were quite a few players that outperformed expectations. José Iglesias spent his season as the shortstop-DH (?) and lead the offense, slashing .373/.400/.556. Ryan Mountcastle followed up with a .333/.386/.492 line. Overall, the team ranked third in batting average (.258) in the AL, which isn’t too shabby for a team that only a season earlier had lost 108 games. Despite this pretty decent offense, the Orioles attempted sac bunts at a higher rate than any other team (2.8%).
Pitching was a bit of a weak point for the Orioles in 2020. Team ERA was 4.51 (ninth in the AL) and only one starter had an ERA below 4.00 (Tommy Milone, at 3.99!). The bullpen managed 11 saves, which could definitely be better.
2021 Manager: Brandon Hyde
Brandon Hyde came to Baltimore after spending time as a bench coach and interim manager for the Marlins and as the bench coach, director of player development, and first base coach for the Cubs. He briefly coached under Ricky Renteria before the Cubs brought in Joe Maddon. Hyde took over for Buck Showalter, after Showalter’s contract was not renewed after losing 115 games in 2018.
Hyde is 95-165 in his career with the Orioles. He’s been ejected a grand total of five times since taking over managerial duties in 2019. It’s pretty tough to evaluate a manager’s performance when his organization has no expectations to win, so I’m thinking losing fewer than 100 games should be considered successful for Hyde.
2021 so far ...
Times are tough in Baltimore. They’re currently dead-last in the AL East, 13 games back from first and 11 1⁄2 out of the Wild Card. The only series they’ve won to date has been against the equally-painful-to-watch Texas Rangers. They’ve lost nine in a row and look to be on track for another 100+ loss season.
Pitching for the Orioles can still be described gently as “not great.” Their team ERA is 5.02, currently 14th in the AL. But it’s not all bad!
Matt Harvey has returned to a starting rotation after bouncing around the league since leaving the Mets. Sure, his ERA is 6.31 but only one member of the Orioles rotation has an ERA of less than 5.00 (John Means, who has also thrown a no-hitter). Mancini is back and hitting .278 with 11 home runs and a league-leading 42 RBIs. Means has had quality starts each time he’s come out, holding a 4-0 record with his 1.79 ERA. Cedric Mullins is leading the team in batting average (.298), hits (56) and OBP (.370).
Hyde may want to figure out quick how he can right the ship before he finds himself without a job come October, though.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that the Orioles very briefly had Yolmer Sánchez, but released him after acquiring Adam Plutko, which has totally helped their bullpen.
Series Pitching: One bright spot and three duds
Today we’re going to see Dylan Cease face off against Bruce Zimmerman. Zimmerman has a 5.59 ERA and 2-3 record with 30 strikeouts this season. He had his shortest start last Saturday against the Nationals, going three innings and allowing five runs. Zimmerman is a lefty and a rookie, so do with that what you will. Cease had been solid in his last eight starts, allowing three earned runs or fewer, before facing the Yankees (ugh) and giving up five runs over 4 1⁄3 . This will be the first time Cease faces Baltimore, so hopefully it goes better than his first visit to Yankee Stadium.
Friday is going to be Matt Harvey vs. Dallas Keuchel. Harvey won three of his first six but has since lost four in a row. He’s posting a 6.31 ERA with a 3-5 record and 36 strikeouts. Harvey allowed six runs in 4 2⁄3 against the Nationals on Sunday and has an 8.85 ERA for May. Meanwhile, Yankee Stadium was not kind to Keuchel. He committed his first error since 2017, leading to two unearned runs (out of the three allowed). Keuchel has a 4.28 ERA and 28 strikeouts with his 3-1 record. He threw 100 pitches vs. the Yankees in four innings, so hopefully he’s recovered enough from that to face the limping Orioles.
Saturday is going to be John Means facing off against Lance Lynn. Means is the one good part of the Orioles rotation, leading the AL with a 1.79 ERA and 4-0 record. His past three outings have ended in no-decisions. Lynn had a no-hitter through six during Monday’s win against the Cardinals. He’s 2-1 lifetime against the Orioles and his 1.51 ERA means we may be shaping up for a pitcher’s duel on Saturday.
Sunday’s close is going to have Keegan Akin facing off against Lucas Giolito. Akin has a 0-0 record and a 6.10 ERA with 10 strikeouts, and will be getting his first start of the season. Giolito had some right-side tightness on Tuesday against the Cardinals, still managing six innings during the win. He’s had 23 strikeouts over his last 20 innings and 66 so far this season.
Why Do We Hate the Orioles?
A lot of people hate the Orioles because of Cal Ripken Jr. and the stadium. We’re not punching down here, as White Sox fans are all-too-familiar with painful rebuilds.
That smug looking bird deserves a kick in the dick.— DH (@HalloweenHalpin) May 26, 2021
I went to White Sox/O's with 2 friends and 1 got black out drunk and started harassing the O's fans in our section by screaming at them that "Cal Ripken Jr. was a shittiest 2nd baseman of all time" despite Ripen never playing 2nd base. I hate them for reminding me of that shame.— Rudy: Justin Fields #1 Fan (@CoveysBurner) May 26, 2021
They released Gold Glove Yolmer Sánchez earlier this year How do *they* release someone like him?— Ashley Sanders (@Ashley22Sanders) May 26, 2021
Brady Anderson. He couldn't have gotten the more subtle steroids? 50 home runs my ass.— Ross Read (@RossRead) May 26, 2021
Because bird names suck and bein named the Oreos would have been a lot better pic.twitter.com/Ay8w19Mjw9— Berk (@ChiBerk96) May 26, 2021
Freakin Brian Roberts man. Dude was a menace on the bases and damn good in The Bigs 2— Bartolo's Colonoscopy (@lakeview487) May 26, 2021
Tito Landrum, 10th inning, Game 4, 1983 playoffs.— Brian, the guy who just needs some sleep. (@BDunnChiSox1) May 26, 2021
No one really seems to hate the Orioles and this isn't helping— catty young sox (@colleensullivan) May 26, 2021
Because they started the Empty Ballpark trend before it was cool.— Landon Gore (@landonwilliam86) May 26, 2021
They didn’t let King Felix on their roster— Dr. Ducky MD (@froelichsean) May 26, 2021
The Oriole Bird.— Scarlett Ramírez (@Tigresa_de1810) May 26, 2021
Their mascot looks goofy and I spend a good amount of time thinking that South Paw could take him out.
I ... can't? They've been so irrelevant for so long, and even Baltimore deserves better. <shrug>— Bruno Vander Velde (@BrunoVelde) May 26, 2021
Yeah, Camden made the New Comiskey age about 20 years overnight.— Tommy Barbee (@KindaBleu) May 26, 2021
Tito F’n Landrum.— Vinny C (@vinnyc52) May 26, 2021
Traded Jake Arrieta for a bucket of baseballs, helping the Cubs secure their first World Series win in 108 years.— Alex (@ZanderMay) May 26, 2021
Only beef, if any, is that Camden Yards was built right after Comisky II by the same architecture firm. Camden Yards began the ballpark renaissance, and well, we have what we have.— JerryManuelOfficial (@JerryManuelOff1) May 26, 2021
Because they seemed to own Bobby Jenks years back. I swear they scored half the runs he gave up.— Jason McKinney (@discinfool23) May 26, 2021
They got the stadium that Jerry Reinsdorf in his infinite wisdom rejected for the Tidy Bowl monstrosity that existed for 20+ years.— Leonard Skynard (@Leonard42) May 26, 2021
Crushing late inning defeats on the road in Baltimore. They're like honorary members of the AL West.— Redhottake Ranch (@karkovicesquad) May 26, 2021
They’ve got the best ballpark that I’ve ever been to and I resent them for that— Matt Stocaí Bána (@OHeirican_Dream) May 26, 2021
Cause they kicked the white Sox asses in an empty stadium before it was cool. pic.twitter.com/MsoqbsE9RY— NILES STANDISH (@JGood415) May 26, 2021
Tito Landrum, a male model in the offseason no less, can F all the way off for the trauma & heartache he caused 9-year-old me after hitting that homerun off Britt Burns in the '83 playoffs. If only I could remember who the manager was who left him in that game too long.— pauleywannacracker (@nocrackers30) May 26, 2021
I feel like almost every game I went to as a kid the Sox played the orioles, and always loved seeing Cal Ripken play. I'll never forgive them for the Wellington Castillo fools gold we got when we signed him. pic.twitter.com/pbALdRkimw— Sox-Side Pride ⚾️ #LeuryLegend Stan (@SoxSidePride420) May 26, 2021
Because every single time a player gets injured or rests for a day a seraphic choir of goateed thumbs yowl that "Ripken never took a seat!"— Brian O'Neill (@oneillofchicago) May 27, 2021
Memories of Cal Ripken Jr. Dont ask why; it’s irrational.— Robin — counting down to summer (@Robincha) May 26, 2021
I’ve met some really cool Orioles fans the last few years. Not hate here but still want to destroy them and wish them luck with their rebuild— Jose “White Sox Fan” Munoz (@jamjrtweet) May 26, 2021