Loss of Markakis may provide toughest test yet for these Orioles

Wow. There was a lot to digest and soak in during and after Saturday night’s game. A controversial ending. The Nick Markakis injury. Lew Ford helps beat CC Sabathia. Joe Girardi is screaming at reporters. Mark Reynolds homered. Again. Pedro Strop struggled. Again.

Oh, yes, and the Orioles tied the Yankees for first place. Again.

Now the Orioles have to show their resilience. Again.

Having seen them do that about 20 times this season, I wouldn’t bet against them overcoming the loss of Markakis. No doubt it was a devastating blow and you could almost feel a little wind coming out of the Orioles’ sails in the clubhouse after the game. They were a team feeling for a hurt teammate and just sick over the fact this long-time Oriole may not get the chance to be in the playoffs after all those losses he’d endured over all those years.

The Orioles have had so many chances to crack already this year. Will this be the blow that finally breaks them? That is what a lot of people are thinking and feeling this morning. How can they overcome this one? I don’t have a great answer for that, just that I’ve seen too much from this team this year to doubt them now.

One concern I have is that some of the Orioles’ core players - guys like Adam Jones, Reynolds and J.J. Hardy - will try to do too much now. All three have come up so big for this club at various times this year, but it’s human nature now to want to be the guy that provides what is needed to overcome this latest blow.

While I won’t doubt the Orioles can overcome this loss, the facts are these: In games when Markakis started this year, the Orioles went 62-42. When he didn’t start, they went 16-19.

The Orioles have no one to plug into the lineup to replace or equal Markakis’ talent. Beyond that, he was the silent leader of this club. He was the heart and soul of this club.

Now we begin to find out if the Orioles can pull this off without him.

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