Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.
That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.
The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).
That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.
Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.
The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.
At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.
A couple of other early scheduling observations:
-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.
-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.
-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.
-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).
Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.
Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord
-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready