On a sunny, summer-like day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Toronto Blue Jays brought their hot bats to the plate and crushed the Baltimore Orioles 11-3 before nearly 40,000 fans. The Orioles have now lost three of the first four series to start the season, an ominous sign but not an improbable obstacle to overcome considering that the birds are only 1.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
After last night's exciting late-inning victory in which David Lough poked a single down the left field line to bring home a joyous Steve Lombardozzi with the game-winning RBI, the Orioles were looking to take the series today and get starter Ubaldo Jiminez back on track. Jiminez held the Jays to one run through the first three frames, but would end up yielding 5 runs and 10 hits to the Blue Jays through 5.1 innings of work. The Jays would go on to chalk up a total of 11 runs on 17 hits. Jiminez' ERA is now 7.31 through three games. Josh Stinson's relief appearance today was a disaster. Stinson surrendered 6 runs and 7 hits in 2 innings on the mound. On the offensive side, the only bright spot today was the back-to-back homers by Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. It was the first home run of the season for Davis who has been hitting well, but has not been able to get the ball over the fence.
Although the Orioles are certainly not in dire straits with their 5-7 start to the season, there are some legitimate concerns about the inconsistency regarding their offense and their starting pitching. In the series against the Jay's, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris were impressive but Ubaldo Jiminez is a very unimpressive 0-3 thus far in the 2014 campaign. And while Chris Davis and Matt Wieters are swinging hot bats at the plate, the offensive as a whole is lukewarm at best. Ten percent of the baseball season will be over in four games, and the Orioles will need to win 3 of their next 4 games (three against Tampa Bay and one against Boston) to reach that point as a .500 team.
That would be a disappointment. Anything less than .500 will be a concern. Not that playoff teams all get off to great starts, but through each phase of the season this team will be under increasing pressure to perform. In 2012 and 2013, the Orioles were not expected to do all that much, but the fans and the sports media expect this team to compete with New York and Boston this year. After today's 11-3 thumping by the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles need to figure out a way to operate on all cylinders before they can start looking at the standings. Perhaps that won't happen until Manny Machado returns to the lineup, but Machado may not be back until early May. And we can't expect Machado to do all that much for at least a week or two into May. Even with a hot start by Manny, the starting pitching will need to look more like Chris Tillman than Ubaldo Jiminez if the offense even has a chance to keep the team in the game.
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