The Baltimore Orioles’ playoff hopes may be in deep trouble.

A Baltimore Orioles player's hat and glove sit in the grass during batting practice at the team's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla.,  Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Orioles pitchers and catchers are scheduled for their first workout Friday, Feb. 14, with the first full squad workout Feb. 19. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A Baltimore Orioles player’s hat and glove sit in the grass. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

After losing six of their last 10 games, the Orioles are now in third place in the American League East with a 67-55 record. They trail the current first-place Toronto Blue Jays (70-53) by 2.5 games and are two games behind the second-place Boston Red Sox (69-53).

Poor starting pitching continues to haunt the O’s, the latest example coming in a 12-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Aug. 20. Starter Chris Tillman surrendered six earned runs in just two innings before he was pulled from the mound. His reliever, Odrisamer Despaigne, wasn’t any better, giving up four runs through the next three innings.

Left-handed pitcher Wade Miley was recently acquired via trade to help improve Baltimore’s shaky rotation, but he wasn’t much help in his first outing, allowing six earned runs over 1-2/3 innings in a 15-8 loss to the Astros on Aug. 19. Ubaldo Jimenez relieved Miley and was nearly as bad, surrendering three earned runs through three innings.

To make matters worse, Baltimore continues to struggle at the plate, a common theme for the team during the second half of the season. Power slugger Chris Davis still hasn’t shaken his funk, placing a huge void of production in the middle of the lineup. Davis went 1-for-4 at the plate on Aug. 19. He managed to pick up his 29th home run of the season on Aug. 20, but the rest of the big hitters in the lineup struggled. Home run leader Mark Trumbo went 0-for-4 at the plate and Manny Machado was 0-for-3 in the loss.

If the season ended today, Baltimore would make it into the playoffs with the final wild card spot, but only barely; they rank just ahead of the Seattle Mariners (66-56) by one game. Unfortunately for the Orioles, the postseason doesn’t begin today and there’s still a lot of games to be played against some really tough opponents. With just under 40 games on their schedule, Baltimore will have to face Toronto six more times and Boston three more times. Neither division foe will be eager to give up ground in the standings.

The Orioles will also have to take on the super-talented Washington Nationals in a four-game series in the upcoming week. With that kind of schedule, Baltimore could end up outside of the playoff picture, looking in, by the end of next week.

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor