The Orioles and Blue Jays made it through two games yesterday without any blowups and only one stunning blowout. No hits through six innings in the nightcap and no hitters drilled after the opposing pitcher surrendered a couple of home runs. No bickering over a misunderstanding or false accusations. No TV-MA rating for the television broadcast.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde took some social media heat - as if that’s a unique development - for his language Friday directed at Rays starter Robbie Ray. He apologized after the game, expressing remorse and his embarrassment, but that didn’t satisfy everyone.
It didn’t need to. This was a heat-of-the-moment reaction from a manager defending his club.
Baseball wants a hot mic near the bench? Accept the risks.
Ray has every right to slow his tempo and glare at the dugout. Even to motion for Hyde to join him on the field. And Hyde has every right to “suggest” that Ray get back on the mound and stop trying to intimidate his guys.
Those pesky mics and a crowd far from capacity created an unfortunate situation, but one that, I guarantee, isn’t unique in baseball.
Hyde says nothing and fans probably criticize him for showing no emotion. I’ve heard that complaint a few times when he stays in the dugout after a bad strike call, as if screaming at an umpire will reverse it. He stands up for his players, showing again that he has their backs, and it also backfires.
And I don’t think Ray’s status as a Cy Young contender makes him untouchable in a dispute. As if it would be OK otherwise if he had a 6.00 ERA and the Orioles were .500. A last-place team doesn’t have to just sit back and take an accusation that it was tipping off pitches, which is where the whole episode began.
Ray can get angry. So can the other team. Keep the earmuffs handy if it becomes too uncomfortable.
Here’s what I find important: The players appreciated Hyde’s response.
I also think this part is worth mentioning again: They have stood up for him all season, just as he’s done with them - even as he took it to the extreme Friday and perhaps crossed a line or three.
“It means a lot,” said Trey Mancini. “He loves his players and he’s going to back us up in any situation. And I think obviously the fact that it got caught on the mics just enhanced it. Things like that happen all the time.
“Robbie is an incredible pitcher, he’s having such a good year, and they’re in the heat of a wild card race, he is in the Cy Young race, and we’re out here trying to compete, too. So those things happen. There’s no issue there at all, I think.
“The only thing I maybe have like a slight issue with of the whole thing was, I saw a couple national personalities say since our record is what it is that we should sit down and shut up with our tail between or legs. I don’t really get that narrative. We’re going to defend ourselves in a situation where, I can assure you, in my however many years I’ve been playing, have never known one pitch that’s coming, so we were not. We were just encouraging our guys at the plate. There was no sign stealing, anything like that. But again, in the heat of the moment, I understand why he reacted like he did, we reacted how we did.
“That’s no issue. But just the narrative that we can’t defend ourselves because our record is what it is is tired. And that has nothing to do with them or us. It’s more of the outsiders’ perspective. That’s the only thing out of the entire situation that kind of got under my skin.”
The nine-run rally in the eighth inning Wednesday night demonstrated again that the energy level and effort aren’t lacking from a team that could receive the first or second pick in the draft.
They’ll need that same attitude after allowing 22 runs in 14 innings in yesterday’s doubleheader and fumbling two late leads.
“It’s obviously been a tough year and for the guys to come out there and battle back (Wednesday) like we did, it shows you the heart we have on this team and we still want to win,” said Ryan Mountcastle. “Hyde has definitely been a big key to that. He’s given us some pep talks throughout the year to keep our head up, keep grinding, keep going out there and playing hard. And that’s all you can do.”
There’s the 19-game losing streak, which was followed by an 8-8 record before the sweep.
“I think he handled it really well,” said reliever Cole Sulser. “There wasn’t anything that ... we didn’t panic, I felt like, and try to revamp and do something out of the ordinary.”
Tim Cossins, the Orioles’ major league field coordinator and catching instructor, and a close friend of Hyde’s, wants fans to notice how the third-year manager and the club are dealing with the adversity and grinding through it.
“I thought about that,” he said. “I think it’s really important for people to understand that despite what they see on TV at certain times and so forth that the preparation and the effort and the energy and all the stuff has been unbelievably consistent and productive. And I think you guys see it because you guys see the prep and so forth, but that has to be credited to Brandon and how he approaches it and the staff and how hopefully that we’re approaching it.
“I think the hope is that when you come to the park that you don’t really have a bearing on how the team has played or is playing. That you just see the energy, and hopefully that comes through every night. It’s a long season and you’re going to see some things that you would automatically attach to maybe some failures along the way, but for the most part if you came in a nightly basis, hopefully you don’t see it.
“It’s interesting when you’re with somebody as much as we’re with each other and watching somebody go through experiences like this and you have a personal friendship, as well, and to watch somebody handle adversity and successes is fascinating. He’s handling it just exactly like I thought that he would coming into it. He’s so even keel that you get the same thing pretty much every day, and he’s actually doing that on a daily basis. He’s come to the park every single day the exact same way, whether we’ve won a couple in a row or lost a bunch in a row. He’s the same guy.
“I’m amazed that he’s been able to maintain that way, which I thought he would. But to watch it in real time is pretty incredible.”
The season keeps testing everyone.
Orioles pitching combined to allow 11 hits in the seventh inning of Game 2, the most in an inning since also surrendering 11 in the first on Sept. 20, 1983 in Detroit.
The 11 runs in the seventh are their most since allowing 12 in the first inning on July 30, 2011 in New York. The four home runs are the most since the first inning of a May 8, 2018 game in Kansas City.
According to Elias Sports, Toronto is the first team in major league history to hit a go-ahead home run while trailing in the final scheduled inning of both games of a doubleheader.