HOUSTON - If the 2011 Red Sox will be remembered for having chicken and beer in the clubhouse during games, perhaps the 2014 Orioles will be remembered for substituting a live chicken before games. And skip the suds.
Center fielder Adam Jones suggested tonight that some changes may be in store Saturday morning in an attempt to turn around a team that's lost four in a row and sank below .500. He's trying to maintain his sense of humor, no matter how sad the results.
"It's frustrating," he said following a 2-1 loss to the Astros. "Obviously, we want to swing the bats better and provide runs for our starting pitchers who, give them all the credit in the world, they're throwing the lights out of the ball. But we just haven't clicked. There's no excuses. We've just got to swing the bats better, piggyback each other. Just got to find a way. Where there's a will, there's a way. Keep plugging away and keep going after it.
"I know it's cliched, but you know how we grind out here. Right now, it's not dropping for us, but today's over with, so tomorrow we're just going to come out and bring our attitude. We might amp it up in here. Might bring a live chicken. I don't know. Might do something to change it up a little bit around this place."
The team has again fallen into a collective slump, with a few exceptions.
"I think it's everybody besides (Nelson) Cruz. Whatever he's doing, it's working," Jones said.
"We're just trying to do too much individually rather than pass the baton and let the guy behind us do it. Our lineup is really, really strong. Without us getting on base, we kind of limit ourselves and we're guys who drive runs in. We've just got to get some guys on base and string some hits together, because when we put runners on base, we tend to score. But right now, we haven't really strung two or three or four hits together and it's shown. So, we just need to regroup and pass the baton."
Jones popped up a bunt with one out and nobody on base in the top of the ninth.
"I'm just trying to get on base any way I can," he said. "I haven't been swinging the bat the way I want to, driving the ball recently the way I want to. I saw the third baseman back, and any way to get on base with CD (Chris Davis). He hasn't been swinging the bat well either, but this could be a situation to get him out of it. It would eliminate (Chad) Qualls' hard slider down in the dirt and create something different. What I was trying to do was do something different than just the norm and it backfired, but I'm glad I attempted it, so it's going to be in the back of their minds. And hopefully it will be beneficial.
"I might not need to try it again, but I need to use that as part of my game. I've been kind of negating it the last couple of years because I've been batting three and four, but I think I need to really implement that back, because that really helped me with everything. With hitting and playing the game the right way."
Things keep going wrong for the Orioles.
"It's a rough stretch, I'll tell you that," said Steve Pearce. "It's no fun losing, especially when we see the potential that's here. We just can't seem to get the timely hit when we need it. The pitching has been great the past couple days. It stinks that our starter is going into the sixth, seventh, eighth inning and allowing one or two runs and we're losing.
"We're not pressing. We're just not getting that timely hit. We're having the opportunities, we're in every single game. We just aren't getting the ball to bounce our way. It's baseball. It's one of those things."
Each wasted quality start eats away at the hitters.
"Definitely makes it worse because they're pitching great," Pearce said. "They're pitching their butts off. And when our pitchers go out there and do that, to leave with an L or a no-decision is unacceptable. We don't like it. We need to pick it up."
The Astros tied the game in the seventh on Robbie Grossman's double to left, the ball sailing over Pearce's head.
"It was hit pretty well," Pearce said. "It was a big hit by Grossman. That's what's happening. The opposing team is getting big hits and we're not. It stinks as a ballclub."
Miguel Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the sixth before Jose Altuve reached on an infield single with one out.
"I was thinking about it," Gonzalez said. "There were hitting the ball pretty good even though there were a couple of nice plays we made when we needed to. I was working pretty well."
What happened in the seventh, when the Astros collected three doubles and a single and scored twice to take a 2-1 lead?
"I was rushing a little bit, but I thought I made my pitches I needed to," Gonzalez said. "They just capitalized and sat on my fastball. You've just got to work a little more and try to make a little more pitches toward the end.
"They've been playing good ball. They've won seven games straight. We kept them there, but unfortunately we came up a little short."