ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles were swept by the Rays in a four-game series at Tropicana Field. They've lost five games in a row and are five behind the Indians for the second wild card. They only have six left in the regular season.
Could it get any worse? It did today with a knee injury to Manny Machado and a possible concussion suffered by Alexi Casilla.
The fear, of course, is that Machado tore ligaments in his left knee. An MRI in Baltimore on Monday could bring confirmation.
The injuries were the focus of teammates in an otherwise quiet visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field.
"Tough day," said catcher Matt Wieters. "First off, all our prayers are with Manny and hopefully the results come back clean and he'll be good to go in a little while. Alexi, too. All our prayers right now are with those guys. On top of that it was a tough loss, but right now we're just thinking about those guys.
"You never want to see that no matter where you are in the standings. It's tough. We fought all year with the guys in this clubhouse and to see two guys come out with injuries is never a good feeling as a teammate, especially guys who have played as hard as they have all year."
Watching Machado writhing in pain, second baseman Brian Roberts had flashbacks to the serious elbow injury he suffered late in the 2005 season while covering first base at Yankee Stadium.
"Yeah, definitely," Roberts said. "That was kind of, I guess, the beginning of my career in a lot of ways that year. And to have it end darn near pretty close to the same time with a pretty dramatic injury...I just hurt for him. You don't want to see it happen to anybody, but when you see what kind of special player he is and special kid he is. But the great part is he's 21 years old. You've got to find a bright spot in it as best you can.
"You hate to hear people say - certainly the injured person hates to hear people say - he'll come back and he'll be fine and this and that. But they're not the ones going through rehab and not the ones dealing with it, so my heart hurts for him."
Roberts also had a sick feeling after Casilla's head slammed into Nick Markakis' leg in shallow right field. Roberts' career nearly ended because of concussion symptoms.
"It was a tough four days and it culminated in a lot of bad stuff today," Roberts said. "Watching Alexi out there, I've dealt with that one too and that's scary just as well. Hopefully, he doesn't have any lingering effects too much from it. But the losses and the injuries and being six days away and feeling like we had a good chance coming into Tampa, and to walk out with this kind of feeling is tough for everybody I think.
"I talked to both of them. DHing I was able to come in and see both of them. Manny, I just gave him a hug and said, you know, there's just not a whole lot to say to somebody at that point except that we're here with you and we're going to do everything to support him. I know the organization is and we'll give him every opportunity to be better than he ever had been before. That's all you can really do at this point."
Markakis said his leg was fine. He was more concerned about Casilla, who laid out for the ball and almost made a spectacular catch.
"I'm coming full speed, he's going out full speed," Markakis said. "The ball is in the lights. I'm trying to get to a position where I think it is going to come out. It came out. I saw it at the last second. Thought about doing a slide. Saw him out at the corner of my eye. Saw he left his feet. I tried to pull up and get out of the way. It was just bang-bang. Me coming full speed, him coming full speed. It was like trying to stop a train on a dime. It's tough. I'm just glad he's OK. He got banged up a little bit, but when it's all said and done, if he's OK that's all that really matters.
"I'm not a doctor or anything but when he was out there I could have sworn he was knocked out. But I'm not a doctor, I don't know. He was laying there. Me and Jonesy (Adam Jones) were just trying to get him to sit still until somebody got out there. He kind of looked dazed and confused. And it's just a tough day, tough series all the way around. You've got nine guys on the field going all out and trying to do the best that they can and sometimes things don't work out the way you want them to work out. When it's all said and done, I just hope everybody is OK at the end of the day.
"He hit my thigh. I'm kind of glad he didn't hit my knee. Like I said, I was thinking about doing a slide catch there. At the last second I saw him and I tried to pull up the best I could. And by then it was too late."
Tommy Hunter was tagged with the loss after surrendering James Loney's pinch-hit walk-off home run.
"You've got to come out tomorrow and you've got to play," he said. "It sucks to lose two guys. It sucks to lose, period. I don't know what else to say."
Said Wieters: "Right now, it's tough, because we played well today and didn't quite get the breaks, and on top of that we got some real bad breaks. It's baseball. It is what it is. We've got to regroup and win what we can when we go back home. But most importantly, right now our prayers are just with the guys that got hurt today."
Executive vice president Dan Duquette expressed his concerns, as well.
"The Manny situation, we're just going to have him come back with us to Baltimore and we'll get an MRI tomorrow and then, based on that information we'll be able to decide what's the next step."
"I'm always concerned for a player when they have an injury," he said. "Any ballplayer, the concern is for the player. And of course, Manny is a uniquely talented player and he's a fan favorite, so I know there's a lot of concern for Manny from Orioles fans and baseball fans. Let's wait and see what the MRI shows and then we can decide the next steps. The personal concern for Manny is that he'd enter a different stage of his career where you have to take some other steps.
Asked if he could sense how debilitating Machado's injury might become, Duquette said, "We just had an X-ray, so we don't have all the information. I think it's best to wait until he gets some additional tests and then let the doctors tell us what the next steps are."
Will the Orioles bring up any infielders from Sarasota?
"We don't have any infielders in Sarasota," he replied.
So much for that idea.
As for Casilla, Duquette said, "He's being examined at the hospital now. He had concussion symptoms, so he was brought to the hospital and they had to take him through a series of tests and decide what the grade of the concussion is. And they'll make a recommendation.
"The series was a particularly tough series because there were a lot of close, hard-fought games, and we weren't able to convert to win a few of them. And then we also have the injuries to two infielders that we have to be concerned about."
Players and coaches in both dugouts wore pained expressions on their faces while Machado was being placed on a stretcher, his left leg immobilized.
"It's horrible," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "That guy there, to me, Baltimore has really ascended over the last couple years and I really believe he's been at the cornerstone, the keystone of that whole thing. Hate to see that. This is a young man, a tremendous talent. You can see the effort level with them.
"This young man blows out his knee, possibly. You can see how badly they wanted it, too."