The Baltimore Orioles have lost 18 games in a row, and somehow that doesn’t do their skid justice.
What’s startling is how rarely they’ve come close to ending the slide.
Baltimore’s losing streak is the longest in the major leagues since Kansas City’s 19-gamer in 2005. The Orioles have been outscored during their slide by 102 runs — an average of 5.7 per game. Only one of their defeats has been by one run, and two others were by two. They’ve lost by seven or more runs seven times during this nightmarish stretch.
Baltimore’s best chances to win came early in the streak. The Orioles led the Yankees 3-0 in the fourth inning Aug. 4 before losing 10-3. They led 5-2 in the sixth the following game, but Tampa Bay stormed back for a 10-6 victory.
On Aug. 8 — in the fifth game of the slide — Baltimore led the Rays 5-2 in the seventh. But Tampa Bay scored six runs in the eighth and won 9-6. The Orioles had a win probability of 93.8% in the seventh inning of that game, according to Baseball Savant. That’s the highest it’s gotten during this skid.
Since that loss to the Rays, Baltimore has not led at any point after the fourth inning, and the Orioles have had a multirun lead only once. That was when they scored two runs in the top of the first at Tampa Bay on Aug. 18. The Rays immediately tied it in the bottom half and went on to win 8-4.
The Orioles are 38 games out of first place in the AL East — and 26 1/2 games out of fourth. Every other team in the division is at least six games over .500, underscoring the difficult task Baltimore has in the years to come. But help may be on the way.
According to MLB Pipeline, the Orioles have the No. 1 prospect in baseball in Triple-A catcher Adley Rutschman, the top pick in the 2019 draft. Baltimore also has the top-ranked pitching prospect, Double-A right-hander Grayson Rodriguez.
And then there’s next year’s draft. Thanks to this slide, the Orioles have a good chance to pick No. 1 again.
Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th career home run Sunday in Detroit’s win at Toronto, and there’s been some chatter about who else might have a shot to reach that mark. Nelson Cruz is next in line on the active home run list at 443, and although he’s 41, he’s aged well enough that 57 more homers doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
Giancarlo Stanton has hit 332 homers and is only 31, but he hit just seven in 2019 and 2020 combined, so the question is whether his health will hold up. Bryce Harper (255) and Manny Machado (245) are about halfway to 500 and haven’t turned 30 yet.
Then there are the really young stars. Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto all have the talent to post huge career numbers, but it’ll be a while before we can really evaluate their chances at 500 homers.
Cabrera is also closing in on 3,000 hits. He’s just 45 hits shy, and if he gets there, he could be the last person to reach that mark for a while. Robinson Cano needs 376 hits for 3,000, but he’s 38 and serving a season-long drug suspension. Jose Altuve reeled off four straight 200-hit seasons from 2014-17, but his high since then is 169 in 2018. With 1,739 hits at age 31, he still has a long way to go.
In an era defined by home runs and strikeouts, the 3,000-hit mark may start to look awfully elusive.
Although the Royals lost those 19 games in a row in 2005, the year wasn’t a total loss. Who did Kansas City take with the No. 2 pick in the ’05 draft?
LINE OF THE WEEK
Freddie Freeman hit for the cycle in Atlanta’s 11-9 win over Miami on Wednesday night. Freeman had competition for top billing that night, though. Shohei Ohtani homered and pitched eight innings as the Angels beat Detroit 3-1.
COMEBACK OF THE WEEK
The Los Angeles Angels erased a 10-2 deficit in Detroit on Thursday, scoring 11 runs in the final four innings to win 13-10. The Tigers had a win probability of 99.4% in the bottom of the fifth.
Some heads-up baserunning Saturday helped the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Washington Nationals. Kolten Wong was on third when Omar Narváez hit a foul pop to the first-base side. The first baseman, catcher and pitcher all drifted over toward the ball, leaving home plate unattended. So Wong tagged up and came sprinting home after the catch was made.
Kansas City took Alex Gordon with the No. 2 pick in 2005. Justin Upton went to Arizona at No. 1.
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