Offense is off its game again
Wondering where fans have gone for biggest home games Orioles average just 3 runs in losing 2 of 3 to Blue Jays
The Orioles drew an announced 15,532 fans to Camden Yards on Monday night for the opener of a critical showdown series against the Toronto Blue Jays, a meager figure by any measure for a home team that has spent most of the 2016 season in first place.
If you want to know just how meager, consider that the woeful Philadelphia Phillies, who entered Wednesday 17 games out of first place in the National League East, drew 16,056 to Citizens Bank Ballpark on the same night with comparable weather.
Welcome to one of the great mysteries of the 2016 season: why a contending team with a loyal and
O’s add depth to outfield
The Orioles claimed Drew Stubbs on waivers from Rangers and traded for the Diamondbacks’ Michael Bourn
The Orioles’ three-game series against the frontrunning Toronto Blue Jays this week at Camden Yards served as a way to measure what distances the American League East division leaders from the O’s.
But with fewer than 30 games left in the regular season, and the Orioles clinging to a tie for the second AL wild-card spot, it’s still a mystery what this team truly is. And the Orioles’ 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays onWednesdaynight — marking their fifth straight series loss against a division opponent — was an indicator of the inconsistency they’ve displayed all season.
Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo appeared to be on his way to pitching his way out of the team’s shaky starting rotation after stumbling into a
recently rejuvenated fan following is ranked 20th in the major leagues in average home attendance (26,791) through 66 games at Camden Yards.
The Orioles had fallen three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race over the weekend, but they entered the Toronto series at Oriole Park still nestled in one of the two AL wild-card slots. They also are on pace to challenge the all-time single-season home run record and they play in one of baseball’s most attractive and comfortable ballparks.
Yet they drew a total of 31,615 to the first two games of this series, which is almost 10,000 fewer than the Blue Jays average for one home game in Toronto. They followed by drawing just 16,161 on Wednesday.
So, what is it? The unpredictable weather that has all but turned the infield tarp into an everyday player? The inconsistent performance of the explosive offense, which can just as easily score one run as a dozen on any given night? A post-Freddie Gray tourism hangover?
What makes the situation even more inexplicable is the fact that the Orioles went into Wednesday with the majors’ third-best home record and came back from New York on Sunday with the AL’s second-highest average road attendance (31,628). Go figure.
There’s no one answer. The summer weather has been abominable, with games marred by rain, heat and thunderstorms to seriously dent the walk-up numbers.
The team has been weirdly inconsistent, reeling off three seven-game winning streaks and an 8-1 run during the first half of the season that account for about 40 percent of its victories before sagging to losing records in July and August.
And, yes, Baltimore has gotten bad publicity the past 16 months, but if that’s the reason, howdoyouexplainthelargenumber of Blue Jays fans who showed up Monday to outshout their orange-clad counterparts?
None of that, however, should have anything to do with the number of fans the Orioles drew for the first two games of a Blue Jays series that had the potential to determine whether the O’s would continue to compete for the AL East title or fall by the wayside in the wild-card race.
It would be impossible to measure fan confidence in the team, but it appears that the Orioles have developed something of a credibility problem even though they remain one of the top teams in the AL.
Maybe it’s the paper-thin organizational pitching depth. Maybe the on-again, offagain nature of the offense and the instability of the pitching staff have simply created a creeping fatalism that has increased with the recent injuries to three of the club’s most important players.
There certainly seem to be more grouchy fans on Twitter complaining about the Orioles’ sub-.500 second-half performance.
This is a touchy subject in the Orioles clubhouse, where the players also wonder where everybody went. But they know better than to complain about the fans when there is still a very faithful core that showsup regularly and — if Tuesday night was any indication — cheers a lot louder than their numbers would lead anyone to expect.
“All I can say is, when they’re here, it’s a lot of fun to play in front of them,” said veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose name is chanted by the crowd each night during the announcement of the starting lineups.
There might be some fan discontent because the Orioles didn’t make any dynamic midseason acquisitions, or because baseball operations chief Dan Duquette didn’t appear to have the minor league depth to pull off something big by the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. But the Orioles spend more moneyonfree agents during the offseason than just about anybody.
They opened the season with seven straight victories and have been in first place for 111 of the 151 days of the season so far. They have never been more than four games off the AL East lead.
This is a city that spent 14 straight years longing for a winning team and has now gone nearly five seasons without a losing one. Could a big chunk of the Orioles fan base become jaded that quickly?
It’s a mystery.
Mark Trumbo breaks his bat in popping out to second base in the fourth inning. The Orioles allowed three runs in the first and scored just one run until the ninth in losing to Toronto and falling four games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and into a tie with Detroit for the second wild card.