The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night. In so doing they established a Baltimore franchise record for losses, with their 108th defeat of the 2018 season. (They still need to lose four more games to break the overall franchise record of 111, set by the 1939 St. Louis Browns. They’d have to go 8-3 in their remaining games to not do this — that’s not gonna happen.)
The Orioles are having what will likely wind up as the second-worst season in the divisional-play era. Since the Mets went 40-120 in 1962, only one team — the 2003 Tigers — has failed to win 50 games. Those Tigers went 43-119. The Orioles would have to lose all 11 of their remaining games to match that. That seems unlikely — and it would give the O’s a season-ending 13-game losing streak — but after they play the Jays again Wednesday, they finish the season against three teams headed to the postseason, three at the Yankees, three at the Red Sox, four vs. the Astros at home. They are 8-27 against those three teams so far. So yes, I’m saying there’s a chance.
Here’s a summary of just how awful the Orioles have been this year, or actually, since late last year.
- On September 5, 2017, the O’s were 71-68 and just 1½ games out of the A.L.’s second wild-card spot. Since then, they are 47-127, eighty games under .500 over a bit more than a season’s worth of games. That’s a .270 winning percentage.
- The Orioles fell to 60 games out of first place with Tuesday’s loss. No team has finished 60 games out of first place since the 1962 Mets. It’s hard to do in divisional play — you basically have to win fewer than 50 games and the team with the best record in the league has to be having a great season and be in the same division. That’s happening this year in the A.L. East. In 2003, the Tigers were in the division with the “worst” division winner, the Twins, who went 90-72, so they finished “only” 47 games out of first place. They were 58 games worse than the Yankees, who had the A.L.’s best record in 2003.
- The Orioles have not won 10 games in a calendar month this year. Sure, they could do that in September, where they are 3-13 so far, but that would require them going 7-4 in their remaining 11 games. That’s not gonna happen. The O’s best 11-game stretch at any time in 2018 is 6-5, and they haven’t done that over any 11-game span since July.
- The O’s have had 11 (!) different losing streaks of at least five games. Their longest losing streak is “only” nine games, but they are currently on a run of 6-22 since August 18.
- The O’s are bad in one-run games: 11-26. They are worse in blowouts: 13-34. They are bad at home (26-50) and worse on the road (17-58). They are bad in day games (16-36) and worse at night (27-72). They’re worse after the All-Star break (13-39, .250) than they were before (28-69, .288).
- They’ve allowed 836 runs and have a chance to allow 900, something no A.L. team has done since 2008 (Rangers). 64 runs in 11 games might seem like a lot, but Baltimore is right on pace for it. They’ve allowed 97 runs in 16 September games so far, 6.06 per game.
They are so bad that they even got called out by one of their own players, catcher Caleb Joseph:
“I’ll tell you this. I’ve never seen sports teams survive seasons like this without people losing jobs, period. Players, you name it,” Joseph said. “It’s a privilege to be here, but you don’t lose a record number of games and not expect some retribution. Everybody. Every single locker in here should be thinking, ‘You know, I should be fired because I sucked. Period.’”
It’s hard to believe the O’s were a postseason team two years ago and a wild-card contender last year, but here we are. The good news for them is that the only other team this bad in the divisional-play era, the Tigers, improved by 29 games the following year, selected Justin Verlander with their No. 1 pick in 2004 and were in the World Series three years after their 119-loss season.
Will that happen to the Orioles? it’s too early to tell, though they did appear to pick up a fair amount of talent and international bonus money in their deadline deals.
In the meantime, keep an eye on this team and its final 11 games. You’re witnessing something historic out of Baltimore in 2018.