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Why O's Fans Should Stay Optimistic: Despite Longest Losing Skid Since '88, There's Still Reason To Believe

(WJZ)- With a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Monday, the Orioles extended their losing skid to 14 games, marking the second-longest such streak in franchise history. There's still a week's worth of futility needed to reach the franchise-worst mark of 21 games that was infamously accomplished at the start of the 1988 season when the team started 0-21. While the team wasn't expected to be a playoff contender this year, this long of a losing streak likely wasn't anticipated. So what's gone wrong?

General Manager Mike Elias gave his thoughts on the recent struggles last week when the streak was at nine losses. Elias pointed to the systemic level work that the front office has had to do with the franchise and noted that young players are getting a lot of playing time which comes with bumps and bruises along the way.

"The way that baseball is and the way it's set up, it takes more than one season or two seasons and especially in the division that we're in," Elias said. "There's some length to that process. We've been here for two drafts, one of them was only five rounds, but we're seeing those players graduate up through the minor leagues. Soon the international players will start to join them. There's a lot to look forward to. We're doing things the right way and doing them in a way that will set us up for a long time so that, hopefully we can be amongst those organizations that are able to avoid going through processes like this."

The O's lineup is the fourth-youngest in baseball and it's showed. They rank 23rd in the league in team batting average (.230), 27th in on-base percentage (.295) and 23rd in on-base plus slugging percentage (.678). While the lineup is young, the rotation is a mix of guys in their prime (John Means), veterans trying to hang on (Matt Harvey, Jorge Lopez), and prospects getting their first prolonged big league action (Bruce Zimmerman, Dean Kremer).

That rotation has, predictably, produced the league's worst ERA (5.95), 2nd-worst WHIP (1.42), and worst batting average against (.274).

All that said, there are some potential hopeful signs for fans to cling to amid the current misery. For one, the Orioles aren't the only franchise in recent years to undergo a rebuild of this nature as WJZ's Mark Viviano pointed out. In fact, Elias has been through this song and dance before, during his time in Houston, where the Astros endured three straight seasons with at least 106 losses before eventually turning into one of the league's best teams and winning a World Series.

Secondly, as Elias said, some of the prospects that the organization thinks highly of are beginning to make their way to the big club or showing promising signs.

Former No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman was red-hot last week, raising his average to .293 with six homers and 20 RBI.

Pitchers D.L. Hall (Bowie Baysox) and Grayson Rodriguez (Aberdeen) have started their seasons a combined 5-0 with 2.14 and 1.57 ERAs respectively. Those players, and others, should arrive in the big club within the next few seasons.

But, that doesn't change the current misery for O's fans this year. So, when will their next win possibly come?

There are two more games left with the Twins in the current series and, as Viviano notes, the Orioles have lost 16 straight to Minnesota.

After that, the team welcomes the Cleveland franchise to town for a three-game series in which they will face two of the team's best pitchers, Aaron Civale and Shane Bieber in the opening and closing game. The middle game on Saturday, could be an opportunity as they would likely face Sam Hentges, who has allowed three or more earned runs in each of his last three starts. Winning that game would end the streak at 17 games.

Or, they could win tonight. Baseball is a game that often features just as much luck as skill. Some nights, hard-hit balls are right at fielders. On others, they're in the gap and scoring multiple runs.

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