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Orioles' First-Half Recap: Five Things That Went Wrong

July 10, 2017
At 42-46, the Orioles are mathematically still in the wild-card hunt. However, so is most of the American League. Eight of the 15 AL teams are within four games of the wild card.
 
With all that's gone wrong with the Orioles during the season's first half, it's amazing they are as close as they are. Now that the All-Star break is upon us, let's look at five things that went wrong for the team during the season's first half.
 
1. The Starting Pitching Was Abysmal
 
The Orioles' 5.07 ERA is the worst in the American League, and the starters had an especially rough time. In 88 first-half games, Orioles starters delivered 32 quality starts (allowing three or fewer earned runs in six or more innings).
 
Only right-hander Dylan Bundy, who had 12 quality starts, was dependable, but while 10 of his first 11 starts were solid statistically, only two of his past seven have been solid.
 
Veteran right-hander Chris Tillman, who missed the first month with shoulder soreness, had the lowest percentage of quality starts with two in 11 outings.
 
Right-hander Kevin Gausman (five quality starts out of 19), left-hander Wade Miley (five of 18) and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (three of 13) certainly didn't help.
 
Interestingly, the three spot starters -- right-handers Alec Asher and Tyler Wilson and left-hander Jayson Aquino -- combined for five quality starts in nine tries.

Orioles starters allowed five or more earned runs 28 times. Gausman, Jimenez, Tillman and Miley combined for 21 of them.
 
2. The Orioles Missed Zach Britton And Darren O'Day
 
Left-hander closer Zach Britton, who had two stints on the disabled list with a sore left forearm, played in 11 games (that's fewer than journeyman left-hander Vidal Nuno), but he ended the first half healthy. 

O'Day was on the DL last month with shoulder soreness and was shut down in May for a week when his shoulder flared up. But the right-handed sidearmer is back now, too, and the bullpen is stronger. Without Britton and O'Day, the Orioles suffered. 
 
With the two mainstays out, manager Buck Showalter had to use several relievers who wouldn't have been on the team otherwise.
 
While left-hander Richard Bleier has been consistently effective and right-hander Miguel Castro has shown some promise, Nuno (10.43 ERA), right-handers Stefan Crichton (8.03), Edwin Jackson (7.20) and Jimmy Yacabonis (6.75) failed to help.
 
The Orioles allowed 10 or more runs 11 times in the first half. Six of them came when Britton and O'Day were on the disabled list concurrently.
 
3. The Big Names Didn't Hit
 
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles' only All-Star, and first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini had excellent first halves, but most of the boldface names have been disappointing.
 
Third baseman Manny Machado (.230), designated hitter Mark Trumbo (.254) and first baseman Chris Davis (.226) have all under produced, though Machado and Trumbo have shown signs of perking up of late. Center fielder Adam Jones, who hadn't homered since June 24, ended the first half with two homers and five RBIs.
 
Davis, who has missed nearly a month with a right oblique strain, is scheduled for the first of two rehab starts July 10 in Class A Frederick.
 
Catcher Welington Castillo, who earlier seemed to have a shot to make his first All-Star team, has slumped badly since returning from a testicular injury June 10.
 
Castillo is hitting .162 (12-for-74) in the month since his return, and since he homered June 24, he's 2-for-29.
 
4. The Orioles Missed Davis And J.J. Hardy
 
When Davis went on the disabled list, he was on a pace to shatter the single-season record of 223 strikeouts, but the slugging first baseman was still missed.
 
So was Hardy, whose steady play at shortstop is often underappreciated by fans who looked at his .211 batting average.
 
With Davis out, Mancini took over first base and a combination of Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard often played left field.
 
Since Davis left the June 12 game, Kim hasn't had an extra-base hit and has four RBIs. Rickard also has only RBIs since then.
 
Hardy's replacements at shortstop -- Paul Janish and Ruben Tejada -- have struggled offensively (though Tejada had three hits July 9), but the only time an Orioles shortstop has homered since Hardy broke his right wrist June 18 was when Schoop started there July 8.
 
5. The Team Played Poorly On The Road
 
Before the Orioles won their final two games before the All-Star break at Minnesota, they had won only one-third of their road games this season. Their 17-30 record has to improve for them to be a playoff contender.
 
The Orioles lost 11 consecutive road games from May 17-June 13 and went more than two months between road series wins. This season, they've won four road series.
 
Only six teams in the majors have fewer road wins. The Orioles' home record (25-16) is impressive, but they've lost five of their past seven games in Baltimore.
 
They begin the season's second half July 14 with a 10-game homestand, the longest of the season.