Will poor play from the road carry over as long homestand begins?

DETROIT - When the Orioles' road trip to Boston and Detroit started a week ago tonight, the club was three games under .500. After going 0-6 the team comes home reeling at 5-14.

The players keep insisting they are better than this and it will turn. The fans are wondering when that will happen. Meanwhile, the team has dug itself a huge early hole. They might never climb back to .500 again this year. They were at .500 or better for just the first two days of the season.

The trip started with pitchers Chris Tillman and Alex Cobb allowing 14 runs over 5 2/3 in the first two games at Fenway Park. The trip ended with Cobb giving it up again.

The new Orioles right-hander had starts last year in which he gave up nine and eight runs. But that was over the course of 29 starts in a full season. In his first two Orioles starts he has allowed eight and seven runs.

Cobb is 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA. So yeah, no one could have expected this, even with a short spring training. Cobb has allowed 20 hits in 40 at-bats to the Red Sox and Tigers, who hit a combined 16 balls at least 100 mph off him.

Cobb's four starts in Florida did not get him ready, and now that is clear. But despite his poor numbers, he feels very close to being the pitcher the Orioles expect him to be.

"There is just a mid-season form and feel you get into where you are not thinking about anything but executing this pitch with all intensity," Cobb said at Comerica Park. "I haven't been there yet. I am still trying to get to certain points in my delivery. You can't do that and be aggressive at the same time.

"I feel it a lot of times, I do. Where I'll throw some pitches and go 'I'm there.' There were times (Thursday) when I felt like that. My changeup was biting good and there was life on the fastball. I was able to spot it. Then it leaves you for a little bit. Those are things you try to iron out during the spring. I'll get it. It stinks that it has taken these two games. But I really do feel like it's right around the corner and I will get it."

The players still believe: You would, of course, expect them to and yes, the Orioles remain confident that they will still contend and be a playoff team. At this point the 25 men in that clubhouse may be the only true believers.

Adam Jones back black.jpg"It's frustrating," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We all come to the park ready with a plan. Sometimes that plan doesn't work out. We allowed two big innings that hurt (in Thursday's 13-8 loss). We just have to be better securing the ball. Take the out that is presented to us. Take the out that is given to you. We need to be better, and that is everybody from top to bottom. We know it's there. We just have to have faith in each other and play the game hard."

Jones began Thursday in a 4-for-26 slump and then went 3-for-5 with a career-high three doubles, and he knocked in two runs.

Shortstop Manny Machado hit two solo homers as part of a 3-for-5, four-RBI game. It was his 16th career multi-homer game.

So how is the team holding up after eight losses in the last nine games?

"We are obviously down, but we have to stay positive. It's been tough," Machado said. "We have to stay positive. We are playing good baseball and we have to keep battling, stick to what we are doing and things will turn around. We just have to clean it up a little bit and things will turn around.

"There is no panic. I think everyone is frustrated. We just have to stay positive. This will pass. We've got a great team and once it starts clicking, we'll get rolling."

Manager Buck Showalter will always try to find a positive to build on after a loss. It is what managers do.

Yesterday he could appreciate Machado hitting 409- and 390-foot home runs. But he also appreciated Machado's at-bat in the seventh inning. Machado came up with his team down eight runs and with runners on second and third and one out. He put the ball in play and scored a run on a groundout to short.

"It's a discipline, a maturity," Showalter said of Machado. "Second and third there, even though it was a ground ball, those are the ones you don't give an at-bat away late in the game when it is going rough. That is a sign of maturity. Those are the ones you can't throw away and have a consistent year. He's done a better job of that this year."

Machado had five hits in the last two games of the series in Detroit. In 19 games on the year, he is batting .338/.414/.623 with seven doubles, five homers, 14 RBIs and with an OPS of 1.037. He went without a homer or RBI in the first seven games, so that's five homers and 14 RBIs his past dozen games, during which he is batting .400 (20-for-50).

Showalter can only hope that better days may finally be ahead for first baseman Chris Davis. After nearly hitting a homer to left field on Wednesday, he did hit a two-run homer to left yesterday in the second inning. The O's led 2-1 at that point. Davis went 2-for-6 with three walks, that homer and three RBIs the last two days.

Hitting just .145, will Davis finally get his bat going?

"I hope so. Chris had three or four good at-bats (Thursday). When you are trying to push (to get going) but also do some things to stay selective. He was on base three or four times. If he gets it going, that could mean a lot to us," Showalter said.

The Orioles' terrible road trip is now followed by the season's longest homestand. They'll host three teams for 10 games. But it starts with four games against the Cleveland Indians, who are 9-7 now and won 102 games last season. The Tribe's team ERA is 1.74 over the last 11 games.

The Orioles were supposed to begin to get their season turned around with a series in Detroit. But they got swept. Now they'll try to beat the Indians at a time when their wins are few and the number of doubters is vast.

Click here to check out the postgame quotes from yesterday, and here to check out Showalter's pregame updates on Zach Britton and more.

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