The Orioles are in the process of a rebuild. As the organization looks to construct a team that can contend in the future against the top teams in baseball, there will be ugly periods. The current stretch is a tough one, though.
Following their 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, the Orioles have lost 18 consecutive games. The last time they won? That came Aug. 2 at Yankee Stadium on a night when Baltimore hit five home runs.
It wasn't a good season by any means, but at least they were playing competitive base. The Orioles - long ticketed for last-place in the AL East - at least were 10-6 since the MLB All-Star break. They'd swept the Nats to help boost their rivals' sell-off at the trade deadline and also won series against Kansas City and Detroit.
But as The Athletic's Lindsey Adler pointed out on Twitter, that 7-1 victory against New York featured a viral moment when a cat ran onto the field and spent several minutes escaping Yankees' stadium employees trying to capture it. It wasn't a black cat. But it might as well have been. The Orioles haven't won since.
Even in a rebuilding season, that performance in the Bronx at least served as an indicator that the Orioles would attempt to finish the season on a high note. They wouldn't make the playoffs, but perhaps a solid finish to their 2021 campaign would carry over into 2022 with their core players having confidence.
No one was prepared for this with 18 straight losses putting the Orioles three games shy of tying the franchise's record for consecutive defeats, which was set by the 1988 team that lost its first 21 games to start the season. That team returned home from its first win after weeks of national attention - on the road in Chicago on April 29 - to a sellout crowd at old Memorial Stadium.
It's unlikely this group will get anything similar when the Orioles continue their homestand Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels for a three-game series. If they lose all three, they'll tie the franchise record. Should they tie it while the Angels are in town, they could set the franchise record for consecutive losses against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Former top Baltimore draft pick Dylan Bundy pitches against his old Orioles team on Tuesday and on Wednesday at least the home fans can watch Shohei Ohtani, the Angels' phenomenon who can do his best Babe Ruth impression on the very site where the young Ruth's father ran a saloon in Baltimore.
Already at 85 losses, the Orioles are on their way towards another 100-plus loss season. Three of the last four seasons have seen the team loses triple-digit games with only the 2020 shortened season interrupting that trend.
Rebuilds are a painful process for fans, especially in baseball when there are 162 games. The Orioles have talent, but they also still have ways to go if they want to contend in the AL East.