West Coast Woes

There are two things that Baltimore Orioles (64-50) fans know very well.

One: Brooks Robinson is the greatest all-around third baseman of all time. Two: West Coast road trips suck!

Although the first point is a discussion for a later day, 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards speak for themselves. As for the latter point, boy do West Coast road trips suck.

Every team on the East Coast must travel west a few times a year. Major League Baseball normally lumps a team’s games on the opposing coast together to make one extended road trip, sometimes lasting nine games or more, instead of having the team go back and forth numerous times.

In theory it makes perfect sense. It saves a little money in travel expenses and at face value cuts down on the grueling travel schedule that these players face for 162 games a year during the regular season.

But it doesn’t work, at least not for the Orioles.

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Baltimore outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim reacts after hitting into a double play during the ninth inning of the Orioles loss Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland.   Photo via Ben Margot / Associated Press

 

Since the start of the 2010 season, Baltimore is 44-51 playing on the West Coast, that includes being just 11-15 against the Seattle Mariners in their home park.

Even worse is the O’s record in Oakland.

That’s the other thing that most Orioles fans can agree on; they don’t play well against the A’s, especially at Oakland.

Baltimore is a combined 8-14 at the Oakland/O.Co/whatever-else-they-want-to-call-it Coliseum since 2010. This includes the current road trip where the Orioles have been defeated in each of the first three games of a four-game series.

Baltimore did manage to rebound with a victory Thursday, but after taking what looked like a commanding lead, Oakland battled back forcing Buck Showalter to use his All-Star closer Zach Britton, who picked up the save.

Maybe it’s the name change, lack of fans or reported ugliness of the stadium that is distracting to the Orioles, who reside in the beautiful Camden Yards.

In fact, since the decade started six years ago, just twice have the Orioles had a winning record on the West Coast, which was 2013 when the club went 11-5 and 2014 when Baltimore went 6-4. The O’s, who are two games under .500 on the Pacific Ocean coast line this season, now have three games remaining out west – a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants starting Friday.

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Mark Trumbo smiles after hitting a grand slam against the A’s Thursday. His four-RBI home run proved to be the difference maker for the O’s to avoid the sweep in Oakland.  Photo via Ross Cameron / Associated Press

 

It’s not just the Orioles, though, that have problems on the West Coast.

Baltimore’s AL East rival Boston has played to just a 41-48 record out west.

The Orioles’ Battle of the Beltway rival Washington Nationals has also had a tough going on the West Coast. Since the start of the decade, the Nats are nine games under .500 (36-45) against teams near the Pacific Ocean.

Both the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets have won 36 out west since 2010, but both also have losing records in those games.

Of the aforementioned teams, only the Pirates have managed to have more than three seasons with a winning record on the West Coast.

Washington has only had one season with a positive record out west, and Baltimore and Boston each have had two such seasons.

One team that has faired much better against the teams from California and Seattle is the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are actually 10 games above .500 in games on the West Coast since 2010, and with six more games remaining out there this season, they can make that record better yet.

 

Although there are a few reasons that teams from the East Coast have suffered out west, such as the Giants winning the World Series three times in the last five years and the Dodgers being a consistent winner, it’s not like every team has had the same fortunes. Seattle and Oakland have been fairly up and down, as have the Angels, and the Padres have been one of the worst teams in baseball since the start of the decade.

So despite the fact that there may not be a great reason as to why teams’ performances suffer when going from east to west, fans of baseball teams near the East Coast will just have to remember that it’s a long season and one stretch of games don’t define a season. And if your team does have a successful West Coast road trip, you can hope it’s a sign of good things to come.

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