Three clubs with better records than the Orioles have also been on the wrong end of a no-hitter this season, making Wednesday’s loss nothing to be outraged over beyond the short-term embarrassment and attention it creates.
It may be a symbol of frustration for the Orioles and their fans, but the no-hitter isn’t a defining moment of doom considering the first-place New York Mets and the current National League wild cards — Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs — were all no-hit earlier this season.
Seattle Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma was sensational in not only pitching the first no-hitter of his career, but it was the 2013 All-Star selection’s first career complete game in the majors. The 34-year-old Japanese pitcher deserves credit for a masterful performance as the Orioles rarely even made good contact in the 3-0 loss at Safeco Field.
It was the first time an opponent had thrown a no-hitter against the Orioles since Boston’s Clay Buchholz in 2007. Before that, it was Red Sox pitcher Hideo Nomo pitching the first no-hitter at Camden Yards in 2001 and Wilson Avarez doing it for the Chicago White Sox in the Orioles’ final season at Memorial Stadium.
Iwakuma was the first non-Boston pitcher who wasn’t making his second major league start — Buchholz and Alvarez each held the latter status with theirs — to do it against the Orioles since Milwaukee’s Juan Nieves pitched a no-no on April 15, 1987.
Beyond its historical footprint, the no-hit effort marked the end of a disappointing road trip in which the Orioles again showed their inability to play well on the road. Despite playing six games against two of the worst teams in the American League, Baltimore only managed a 4-5 record on the trip, bringing its 2015 road record to an underwhelming 25-36.
A win against the Mariners on Wednesday would have only made for a 5-4 trip, but it would have been a winning mark leaving a better taste in the Orioles’ mouths as they enter Thursday’s off-day and prepare to begin an important 10-game homestand this weekend.
Taking nothing away from Iwakuma’s performance, a simple look at the Orioles lineup on Wednesday says it all about how frustrating the offense has been for large portions of the season.
Replacing the struggling J.J. Hardy at shortstop on Wednesday, Ryan Flaherty is now in the midst of an 0-for-33 nightmare. David Lough is hitting .202 on the season and is one of several options in left field offering nothing at the plate. And despite hitting .353 in his first 122 plate appearances of 2015, designated hitter Jimmy Paredes has hit .233 with a .598 on-base plus slugging percentage since May 23.
A club that’s supposed to be contending simply can’t afford to have multiple colossal holes in its lineup, especially when sporting a suspect starting rotation and a suddenly-shallow bullpen.
The math still says the Orioles remain in the hunt in both the AL East and the wild-card race, but we’re still waiting for them to find consistency after 113 games. At this point, what exactly should we expected to change over the final 49 contests?
Whether it was winning 18 of 23 in June or taking seven of eight in late July, manager Buck Showalter’s club has quickly reverted to mediocrity after their hottest streaks of the season instead of steadily earning more victories that defeats like they did over the final three months of 2014. The task of simply winning series — slow and steady wins the race, right? — has proven too much, especially on the road.
Before dropping consecutive games to conclude the Seattle series, the Orioles had alternated wins and losses over the first nine games of August, an appropriate snapshot of what the 2015 club’s identity continues to be.
That of a .500-ish club that just isn’t quite good enough.
Wednesday’s no-hitter wasn’t anything more than what it was in the standings — another loss — but it’s the latest example of frustration in a season full of them.