BOSTON - This isn’t exactly how the road trip was supposed to unfold.
The Orioles will try to avoid being swept tonight at Fenway Park. Then, they’ll fly to New York for a three-game series against the Yankees. Then, it’s off to Cleveland, which also is ahead of the Orioles in the wild card race.
Having fun yet?
I scanned Twitter following last night’s 4-3 loss while waiting for manager Buck Showalter to meet with reporters. Naturally, I came across more nonsense about how the Orioles have quit or how they’ve choked - neither of which is accurate.
They didn’t quit last night and they haven’t quit all season. They got beat on a two-out, two-run ground ball through the left side in the seventh inning and a two-out, RBI bloop single into left in the eighth.
They walked too many batters. They don’t have a hit with runners in scoring position in this series. Their starting pitchers aren’t working deep into games, which applies more pressure to a bullpen that hasn’t been as sturdy as the 2012 model.
They’re also not winning one-run games at the same historic pace as last season. They’ve gone from 29-9 to 14-24 and have lost eight in a row.
But that’s not quitting and that’s not choking.
If this team had quit, it never would have carried a lead into the seventh inning last night after losing 13-2 in the series opener. Effort isn’t the issue here.
“We’re definitely not calling it quits,” reliever Tommy Hunter said after last night’s game. “We’ve got an uphill climb and little time to do it.”
Asked what this team needs to do, Hunter replied, “Winning would probably be a good start.”
The sarcasm tank wasn’t completely empty.
“Score more runs than the other guys. That’s what you’ve got to do to win,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
Rediscovering that one-run magic would be a huge step in the right direction.
“I’ve got a couple of those losses on those one-run games,” Hunter said. “I’ll take a big part of the blame on that, but it is what it is. The baseball’s bouncing a different way right now, and hopefully it changes course the last month.”
The Orioles have lost three of their last four games and five of eight. They fell to 8-7 in games tied after seven innings this season.
Manny Machado has four career home runs against the Red Sox, tied with the Royals for most vs. any opponent.
My two cents on the Orioles claiming Twins outfielder Josh Willingham off revocable waivers: His stats are underwhelming and he’s got a $7 million base salary in 2014. However, he’s a right-handed bat with pop and he plays the outfield. He would fill a need, especially if he’s healthy next season and can approach his stats from 2012, when he won his only Silver Slugger award.
Nolan Reimold is recovering from a second surgery on his neck. We’re not sure whether the Orioles will tender him a contract over the winter. Willingham is a fit. But what about that left knee? It caused his final season with the Nationals to end in the middle of August, and it cost him a big chunk of the 2013 season.
He’s 34, he’s got knee issues and he’s going to make at least $7 million next year. I understand why some fans are, yes, underwhelmed.