Why can't the Orioles beat bad teams?

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Adam Jones Spring Training

Aug. 5, 2013

The Orioles lost two of three games to the Seattle Mariners (52-59) over the weekend to complete a disappointing 4-5 homestand that also included a three-game set with the otherwise sweepable Houston Astros (36-74). The Baltimore Sun termed it "a homestand of missed opportunities."

When they're not hurling expletives at their television sets or blowing up Twitter with frustrated snark, scoreboard-watching fans in Baltimore seem to be asking this question: "Why can't the Orioles beat bad teams?"

Here's how the O's stack up to their primary division rivals and two key Wild Card combatants (the ones not currently leading their divisions) in terms of beating bad (i.e. sub-.500) American League opponents:

Cleveland Indians 27-11, .710

Tampa Bay Rays 22-9, .709

New York Yankees 20-9, .689

Boston Red Sox 26-14, .650

Texas Rangers 26-19, .577

Baltimore Orioles 21-20, .512

[Note: There are currently six A.L. teams with losing records. They are the Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, L.A. Angels, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays. These numbers do not incorporate Interleague play.]

Certain sports have their own logic as to what it takes to make the postseason. Take college basketball, for example. Terps fans tend to evaluate regular season wins and losses using a formula that involves defending your home court against A.C.C. opponents and then stealing a few games on the road. That's typically how you qualify for the Big Dance as an A.C.C. team. (Perhaps the Terps' move to a new conference will invite a new math.)

Baseball has a less-settled logic that varies not only from year-to-year, but also within a season. One's outlook following a loss ("It's a long season" vs. "Every game matters") often depends on the standings. This year the standings are tight and don't show any signs of letting up. Beating bad teams is therefore imperative.

Just ask Adam Jones.

"It’s not like, 'Oh yeah, we're playing the Astros and the Mariners are coming up. ... These are games we’re going to win easily,'" Jones told The Sun last week. "You say that and you will be swept. We've got to go up there and we have to bully them. Take advantage of them. I'm not going to say we're physically better, but we're the better overall team. We're the more experienced team. So, this is the part of the schedule we have to know that we're better and win these games. These are games that we need to win. They aren't games that we're going to win. They are games that we need to win."

Jones added, perhaps prophetically, "This is a part of the season that you look back on and say 'If we had won these games, we could be ... if, if, if."

If. If. If.

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