LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
I pray this isn’t 2005 all over again. That season, the Baltimore Orioles started out hot and held onto first place in the American League East for 62 straight days before slumping just prior to the All-Star break.
After starting the season 42-28, the O’s finished the season with a stretch of 32-60 to end up 74-88.
Of course, injuries played a key role in the tailspin. Javy Lopez, Sammy Sosa, Luis Matos, Brian Roberts and Larry Bigbie all were injured within weeks of each other, and the team grew dissatisfied with the “band-aid” moves of the front office and manager Lee Mazzilli to help them get through this struggle. Sosa went onto post his worst performance of the decade with 14 home runs and a .221 batting average, just another nick in the Birds armor.
Now it’s seven years later. The Orioles again started the season strong, sitting atop the AL East for a good portion of the first half of the season, and at this All-Star break, they are 45-40. This is only the second time since 1998 that they have had a winning record at the break.
But since June 18, the O’s have gone 6-13 and watched the New York Yankees take over possession of first place.
Baltimore has had some injuries during this time, but nothing compared to the 2005 season. And this slump over the past couple of weeks has me worried that it will continue after the All-Star break and the O’s will fade away and once again finish under .500.
But maybe not. I’m still holding out hope. It’s a long season, and maybe this break is coming at the right time. Maybe they need a few days off to recharge and regroup.
I’m not expecting them to win the AL East. It is, by far, the toughest division in baseball. At the break, all five teams are at or above .500. No other division even comes close.
But I can still hold out hope for a wild card spot. Really, is that too much to ask for this long-time suffering O’s fan?