CHICAGO - In honor of the 1994 season, the Orioles’ bats went on strike today.
The throwback uniforms would have sufficed.
Good pitching beats good hitting, and the Orioles saw plenty of it while being swept by the Cubs to conclude their first losing road trip of the season. And it won’t get any easier with Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Jeremy Hellickson starting for the Rays in the series at Camden Yards that begins Monday night.
“It’s been a long 10 days,” said manager Buck Showalter following a 2-1 loss at Wrigley Field. “We’ve been traveling, but every team this time of year has some challenges physically and mentally and emotionally. You get on the plane, you head toward some friendly faces and hopefully we can get back to feeling good about postgame. But I’m proud of the way they’ve grinded.
“We knew we were going to see three really good, hot pitchers coming in here. Just like we did in Cleveland. It didn’t work out for us. I think the key is, you score four runs in 27 innings, you’re not going to win too many games.”
Former Orioles farmhand Tsuyoshi Wada took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Steve Pearce homered for his club’s only hit.
“Same reason we had interest in him when he was healthy,” Showalter said. “Good fastball command all four quadrants. Late life like a lot of pitchers who come out of there have. You kind of throw away the radar gun.
“He’s got a little late hop. Enough changeup. Spun a few balls, but basically fastball-changeup. Very similar to the way Wei-Yin (Chen) pitches and Koji (Uehara) pitches, and we knew it coming in. Very athletic, good deliveries and can repeat their delivery. And keep command of the baseball.”
Miguel Gonzalez retired 13 of 14 before Arismendy Alcantara homered in the fifth. Making his first start for the Orioles since Aug. 7, he deserved a better fate.
“I was really happy about Miguel today. He was solid,” Showalter said.
“He’ll dwell on, ‘How could I have made one run stand up?’ It’s hard to do in this ballpark. There’s a lot of different clocks going on with the schedule and back and forth and whatever. There’s a lot of challenges. I think everybody’s looking forward to getting back, but we’re going to see four good pitchers with Tampa. It will be very similar type stuff, good pitching.”
Chris Davis’ average is down to .189. Nick Markakis is hitless in his last 20 at-bats since his home run at U.S. Cellular Field. The offense as a whole was stifled for much of this trip.
Are pitchers attacking the Orioles’ hitters differently?
“No. I don’t buy that all of a sudden they’re learning how to pitch this guy,” Showalter replied.
“They threw the kitchen sink at Chris Davis last year and they do it all the time. You go through periods where they make a lot of quality pitches on you and sometimes you miss the pitches you should be hitting. It’s very hard to do, especially as the season goes on. We notice the pitchers start doing some things ahead of hitters because they get four days off in between.
“We had a day game, so guys will be able to sleep in their own beds and have some semblance of a normal schedule for a while. It’s another challenge of the season that’s always around the corner.”
The dog days of August?
“We’ve been fortunate with the weather,” Showalter said. “I don’t think it comes from the weather necessarily. It’s just the grind of 120-something games. I don’t count. I know we have 30-some games left, but yeah, everybody is challenged by it. Chicago is. The Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Tampa coming in. Its part of the job description and part of the job environment you play in.
“Our guys will look at it as a reason to separate themselves a little bit as we go forward, I hope. I’m confident with that.”
Twenty-one of the Orioles’ next 27 games are home. Their lead in the American League East, though down to six games, was shaved only by 1 1/2 during this trip.
Time to panic? I’ll let you decide.