O’s playoff hopes end amid close losses and few runs

In a way, it was somewhat symbolic of the 2013 season. In the defeat that officially eliminated the Orioles from the playoffs, they lost a lead, didn’t score enough runs and came up one run short.

They are going to come up short of the playoffs and not make it back-to-back postseason trips. They have lost six in a row and still need at least one win to be able to say they’ve had consecutive winning seasons.

In the quiet of the Orioles clubhouse just minutes after last night’s game, Nate McLouth was asked his reaction to the loss that ended the Orioles’ playoff hopes.

“Disappointing. For whatever reason this season, we weren’t able to string together enough wins in a row or really get hot at any point. Our goal was to get back to the playoffs and we failed, so it’s real disappointing,” he said.

The Orioles simply stopped hitting. They have now gone 21 games in a row scoring five runs or less and that is the longest such streak for any Orioles team since September 1992.

During the six consecutive losses, the Orioles have scored 13 runs. They’ve scored three runs or less in seven of the last 10 games.

Where did the bats go?

“That’s a good question,” McLouth said. “We were so good early and scoring so many runs early. For whatever reason, we were not able to continue that roll.

“We swung the bats well (last night), we just weren’t able to blow it open. We hit plenty of balls hard, just kind of the way it’s gone. Why? I don’t know, but it’s certainly the reason we are in the position we are.”

What started on the sunny fields in Sarasota in mid-February - the work toward the playoffs - officially ends even as the season has five games to go.

I have written before how 2013 felt so different from the magic of 2012. That was the return to winning baseball in Baltimore and the Orioles could not duplicate the magic.

There were more expectations and more pressure this year and maybe the team just needs to learn how to better deal with them moving forward.

A lot went right and a lot went wrong in 2013. There will be plenty of time soon enough to look back and reflect on all of it and ponder the future ahead.

But with last night’s loss, the disappointment could be felt from the stands to the clubhouse - and by Oriole fans everywhere.

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