NEW YORK - The Orioles clubhouse was surly today following a 2-0 loss to the Yankees. It was surely surly.
Other words used by beat writers to describe it included “sullen” and “tension-filled.”
It also was mostly empty after the game. It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.
What about a pennant?
The Orioles slipped into fourth place behind the Yankees in the American League East. Presently, they are 4 1/2 games behind the Rays for the last wild card spot.
“I think we’re all frustrated here, but at the same time, we know we have to come back tomorrow and play good,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy.
“We need to play good. We don’t have long. We don’t have a whole lot left. The back’s kind of up against the wall.”
The Orioles are 1-4 on the road trip and losing ground, which they can’t afford to do.
“We still have the opportunity,” said catcher Matt Wieters, who had one of the Orioles’ three hits today off Yankees starter Ivan Nova. “We’re still playing the same teams that are fighting for the playoffs like we are. We know we need to start playing better and we need to win games. There’s a little bit of urgency to where we just need to get going.
“We know we’re still in it. It’s just a matter of putting together a good run at the end of the year.”
Nova outdueled Orioles starter Scott Feldman to register his first career shutout. He’s got two career complete games, both against the Orioles this season at Yankee Stadium.
“That’s why they have such a good opportunity every year is their starting pitching,” said manager Buck Showalter. “They’re good, they’re deep. (Nova has) a good power curve. Like (Chris) Tillman has a curveball, he has a power curve. Didn’t make many mistakes up with it at all. Stayed in the strike zone a long time, then left the strike zone.
“It’s very easy to sit in the dugout or the stands and say, ‘Why aren’t we doing (more)?’ The guy’s got a 2.9-something ERA in the American League East. It’s impressive. We knew it was going to be a challenge today and Scotty matched him for the most part. If we make a couple plays, he probably has a complete game. That cost him 10 or 15 more pitches.”
Feldman was outstanding, holding New York to one run over seven innings. He turned in a quality start and suffered a loss.
“Just been working with some stuff with Billy (Castro) in the bullpen in between starts,” he said. “Just felt like mechanically things were a little better today. I’ve been kind of fighting them for the last couple starts and command was better as a result of that, I think.
Asked if he felt that the Orioles wasted Feldman’s effort, Showalter replied, “I don’t know about waste. Would you rather get beat 10-0 with him?
“After the first inning, he got his feet on the ground. He’s got a lot of weapons. He was going to throw a cutter, he’s got some fastball. He’s very athletic, very competitive. He knows what works and what doesn’t. I think a lot of pitchers have trouble figuring out who they are and what they’ve got to be true to. I think Scotty knows that. He’s a professional pitcher. He is what he is.”
Wieters was impressed while setting the target today.
“Real good,” he said. “He gave up a run in the first and he really beared down. He was good all game. (Robinson) Cano hit a ball in the first, a breaking ball, he was a little out front and he was able to find a spot in some outfield grass and get a run there. And he was able to keep us in it the whole game.
“The way Nova was pitching today, he knew he was going to keep them down and he did. We just weren’t able to scratch a couple runs to get him a win.
“He located better. He was on everything - his cutter and his sinker. He was able to locate on both sides of the plate and I think that’s the best I’ve seen since he’s been over here being able to locate both of those.”
Nova was just too good today.
“I think he had the best sinker I’ve seen him have in the many times we’ve faced him,” Wieters said. “He was down, he was able to use his sinker to get a lot of ground balls. His curveball is his pitch that I think has come on lately, but his sinker was what was able to get him some early outs and that was able to get him deep in the game.”
The Orioles have scored 13 runs in five games on this road trip - the lowest production in a five-game stretch this season.
“I think what you’ve got to keep in mind is you face (Felix) Doubront, you face (John) Lackey, you face (Jon) Lester, you’re facing Nova and you faced (CC) Sabathia. I think that’s got more to do with it than anything else,” Showalter said.
“When pitchers are on top of their game and hitters are on top of their game, the pitchers win.”
Asked to specify what’s ailing the offense, Wieters replied, “We haven’t scored enough runs.”
“We’ve just got to find ways to scratch some runs across, and when we score runs, the pitchers have to find a way to hold them down.”
What’s wrong with the bats?
“Hits,” Hardy said. “Hits, runs, everything, all of the above.”
Also an acceptable answer.
“We’re just not putting anything together,” Hardy said. “Pitchers are tough. Sometimes, you’ve got to tip your hat. You’ve just got to figure it out and make something happen. That’s what we need to do tomorrow.”
How can this team get back on track after losing 11 of its last 17 games?
“Just playing good baseball,” Feldman said. “Scoring more runs than the other team.”
It’s really a simple game.
“Everybody in there wants to win, so when it doesn’t happen, you just come back the next day and try to make it happen,” Feldman said. “There’s really no science to it. It’s a game. And hopefully we can string a few wins together in a row and get hot.
“I don’t think that anybody is hanging their head in there. I think that obviously we want to win every time we take the field, but it’s baseball and you can’t win every game. So, we’ll come back tomorrow and try to at least get the last win of the series here.”