ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Today’s 5-1 loss to the Rays dropped the Orioles three games back in the wild card chase, with three teams ahead of them for that last spot.
The Orioles had plenty of excuses to lean on, including last night’s 18-inning marathon, but they declined.
“Everybody was engaged and ready to go today,” said manager Buck Showalter. “There’s no excuses. We’re all playing under the same umbrella. Our guys understand it. It’s why they attempt to do something not many people in the world can do, and that’s what separates them.”
To suggest that there was a carryover from last night would be taking something away from Rays starter Alex Cobb, who struck out 12 over 8 1/3 innings.
“He’s pitched real well and nobody’s rested this time of the year,” Showalter said. “You’re never really 100 percent, just some form of it. I think it was more Cobb than anything. He’s got that type of command, that changeup, left- and right-handed hitters, both sides of the plate. He was impressive again.”
Miguel Gonzalez allowed only two hits in six innings, but he walked five and surrendered a three-run homer to Desmond Jennings in the fifth.
“I thought Miggy was good, too,” Showalter said. “Miggy presented himself real well. Just lost his command there that one inning and couldn’t get back on track, and that was a big difference-maker. You knew it was going to be not a whole lot of run-scoring opportunities the way that Cobb’s been pitching. As well as anybody, really, in the American League. That’s a real forte of theirs, so you know you’ve got to have a well-pitched game against them.
“Miggy was good. You look at it, the walk total really wasn’t indicative of his command, it seemed like. It’s what’s kind of unfair about the game sometimes when a guy pitches as well as he does. ... I think everybody knows that he pitched pretty well, all things considered. A lot of guys wouldn’t have made the attempt that he did to get back. He’s been pretty good against Tampa, and he was again today. We were really hoping he would be able to pitch today.”
The Orioles are banged up, but they will continue to push forward and try to stay in the race. Manny Machado’s right foot landed awkwardly on the bag as he tried to beat out a bouncer up the middle in the ninth - Showalter argued the call - and his ankle was heavily wrapped after the game. Adam Jones appeared to tweak something while chasing two triples in the seventh, but he delivered an RBI single in the ninth.
“I’ll talk to him,” Showalter said. “He’s fouled balls off his shin, his knee, his feet, his toes, everything. Everybody has. But the reason why it always gets magnified is this guy posts up, and that’s why I love him. He’s a special breed, a special guy and we’re lucky to have him. He’s a guy who has nothing to do with contractual obligations. He’s going to play the game a certain way and he’s a tone-setter for us.”
Asked if he’s concerned, Showalter replied, “I always am. I was concerned about it in the spring. That’s what I do, that’s what we do. But he’s very honest with me and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Quick turnaround. But he’s a big part of us. He continues to do good things. I’m proud of him. Boy, he’s something. He’s something to watch, and the more the seasons go on, the more rare it gets, it seems like. Guys like him.”
In typical fashion, Jones downplayed whatever was bothering him.
“I’ve been playing every day. The body is sore a little bit, but I’m playing tomorrow so it doesn’t really matter,” Jones said.
“It’s my whole body, head to toe. I need to sit in a whole ice tub, head to toe. But I’m good. Normal body soreness for game 150-whatever it is. If you play every day, you’re bound to have a couple things bother you. I’m human. Some things bother me, but that still isn’t going to deter me from being on the field.
“We have eight games left. It’s crunch time for the team, for the organization. We all know that. That’s added pressure in its own right. But you have to play the game of baseball. We’re not playing teams that are out if it, we’re playing teams that are in the same exact predicament as we’re in. You’ve just got to score more runs than them.”