Defense Is A Big Reason For Orioles Freefall
When the starting pitching and offense (example, last night's abysmal three-hit effort against Seattle) has been as bad as it has during recent weeks for the Orioles, it's easy to forget that the defense has been uniformly bad throughout the season. The Orioles have a major league-worst 70 errors, four more than the nearest club.
The Orioles are bad at third base (current starter Wilson Betemit has 12 errors this season) and in the outfield. Robert Andino had a crucial miscue during last night's loss to the Mariners in Seattle. He's got 11 errors this year and been used less frequently since Brian Roberts returned. Roberts hasn't been hitting.
Mark Reynolds was so bad at third base that he was once again, just as last season, moved to first. That squeezed Chris Davis out to right field to substitute for Nick Markakis, who is out with a broken bone in his hand. Davis is out of sorts in right and with Xavier Avery now in Triple-A Norfolk again, the Birds are less stable in the outfield. Adam Jones, the team's best current outfielder, also has seven errors.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been the rock of the defense for most of the last two years and even he had an uncharacteristic error during the last few days.
The defense and offense let starting pitcher Jason Hammel down last night. The Orioles are making this would-be collapse a team effort. The once cellar-dwelling Red Sox have their act together and are now a half-game behind the Orioles for second place in the American League East, tied with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Birds trail the Yankees by six games.
There is a thin line the Orioles are walking right now between second and fourth place. The sloppiness of their play has only helped to put them in this position. There is no improving the team defensively in house right now. This is the best the organization has in 2012, and that spells trouble for the club's postseason hopes and prospects for avoiding another losing season.
Posted July 3, 2012