ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Orioles have lost eight of 12. They’ve scored just two runs in the past three games, just the second time they’ve done that in the last four seasons, and they haven’t hit a home run in the last three games.
What’s the good news? Despite the lack of offense, the Orioles remain in first place in the AL East, but their lead is only a half-game over the Boston Red Sox.
Through 19 games, their batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.329) are far ahead of last year’s.
Some key hitters have fallen back.
Manny Machado, who began the season with a 16-game hitting streak, is now 0-for-13. Joey Rickard, who reached base in the first 15, is 2-for-20 and has 18 strikeouts to three walks, a poor ratio for a leadoff hitter. Jonathan Schoop is 2-for-30.
But, again there’s good news. Mark Trumbo leads the American League with 28 hits, and while he became the first Oriole to hit two home runs in an inning, 20 of his hits have been singles.
Pedro Alvarez, in his first season in the American League, had a slow adjustment, but has consecutive two-hit games, and Adam Jones, who missed a week’s worth of at-bats with a rib cage injury, hit two balls hard on Tuesday night that were caught.
How good was their start? Their seven-game winning streak to begin the season put them seven games over .500. Never in 2015 were they eight games over.
While they’ll miss Yovani Gallardo, who’s on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, their starters haven’t been bad in their most recent starts.
Ubaldo Jimenez allowed three runs on six hits on Tuesday night and Kevin Gausman made a dazzling 2016 debut on Monday night. Mike Wright pitched well for six innings on Sunday, and Tyler Wilson had a creditable performance last Saturday in getting the win.
Chris Tillman, who starts on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay, overcame a rough first inning against Toronto to deliver a quality start (two runs, four hits in six innings).
The bullpen remains strong, and as always, manager Buck Showalter tries to keep his relievers out of the leaders in most appearances. Only Brad Brach and Mychal Givens (10) are in the top 50.
Wednesday night’s game marks the Orioles’ 20th, and despite their recent slump, there are still many more positives than negatives.