Markakis update, postgame comments after 7-2 loss

Right fielder Nick Markakis won't accompany the Orioles on their West Coast trip to Seattle and Anahaim that begins Monday and leads into the All-Star break.

The Orioles will send Markakis to short-season Single-A Aberdeen on July 2-3 and Double-A Bowie on July 4-6, but not for an injury-rehab assignment. They want Markakis to continue receiving treatment from the medical staffs at those two affiliates and to work with Terry Crowley and Mike Bordick.

Manager Buck Showalter doesn't want Markakis to suddenly make enough progress to where he can begin playing and be stuck out on the West Coast.

Markakis will have his surgically repaired right wrist re-examined tomorrow. The pain is gone, but the incision hasn't completely healed.

The Orioles still consider Markakis to be ahead of schedule, with tomorrow marking four weeks since he underwent surgery to remove a broken piece of hamate bone. They haven't given up on the idea of activating him before the break, but it seems more likely afterward.

OK, about tonight's game ...

The Orioles have lost seven of their last nine games. They've scored two runs or fewer in eight of their last 10 games, and three runs or fewer in 11 of 12.

"We've had good stretches offensively, we've had some real good stretches pitching. We've just got to get back to putting it together again," Showalter said.

"It does put some pressure on the pitching staff, but it also puts some pressure on the hitters, the flip-flop of that when the pitching staff struggles. Every club this year has gone through periods similar, but it doesn't make it any more palatable for us."

The starters must feel pressure to be near-perfect with the lineup unable to generate much offense.

"I think it's human nature," Showalter said. "Guys, they pay attention, they understand the ebbs and flows to what's going on in the season. You've got a lot guys trying. You want something too much sometimes, if there's such a thing. That adds a little pressure to it. You can only do a good job pitching if you catch the baseball behind you and you score some runs and you control the things that you can control."

Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been the club's most reliable starters, but Hammel tied his career high by allowing eight runs last night, and Chen tied his career high tonight when the Indians scored six in 6 1/3 innings.

"It's very hard to do what they've been doing," Showalter said. "We've had other people have good starts, too. I've got a long memory and it's a long season. And nothing worth attaining comes easy. You're going to have some trials and some challenges, and it's about how you respond to them. We've responded to some already that very quickly have been forgotten. I've got a lot of confidence in them, they're good people and have good character. We will get better."

Asked if Chen's biggest issue was elevating his pitches, Showalter said, "They hit a couple pretty good pitches, but every mistake we made, they were on it, it seemed like. We hit a couple balls on the button, but not nearly as many as they did. He really didn't have as good a feel for his breaking ball as he's had in the past."

Speaking through his interpreter, Chen said, "I didn't do my job. Everything was out of control and everything just went south. That's it.

"Everything is my fault. I didn't think about the offense.

"Every day, you got a different feel for your pitches. Today, I just don't feel it. Sometimes, you have good days. Sometimes you have bad days. Definitely, my tempo and my rhythm is out today and I'll have to help the team to get a win next start."

The starters could use a little assistance from the guys swinging the bats.

"I think anytime our offense isn't scoring runs, it puts more pressure on them, knowing they've got to go out there and throw zeroes," said J.J. Hardy. "We need to score some runs. It's what we were doing earlier in the season. It takes more pressure off the pitching for sure.

"We definitely haven't been hitting with runners in scoring position lately, but we've got to keep grinding. It's one of those things where, the more you think about it, the more you try harder and harder. That's not what you need to do. It will turn around eventually."

The Orioles were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position tonight, making them 3-for-52 and 6-for-63.

"It's more mental, and the more we think about it, the more it's brought up that we're struggling, it works more as a negative than anything," Hardy said. "We have to relax and take it as any other at-bat."

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