Is trade speculation finally wearing on the clubhouse?

On Friday night, the Orioles trailed by five runs in the eighth. They rallied to tie the game and force a tenth inning at Toronto, only to see their defense come up short as they lost via a walk-off. Saturday a walk after the count reached 0-2 followed by an error opened the door for the Blue Jays’ winning rally. Sunday the Orioles bullpen gave up a pair of two-run homers in the eighth to blow a three-run lead.

Swept away again in Toronto, which yet again this year, is a house of horrors for the Orioles.

So how was your weekend?

The 2018 Orioles seem to always find a way to lose and defensive shortcomings and the bullpen contributed over the weekend at Rogers Centre. But beyond the late rally Friday night, the O’s offense didn’t do much there either.

This much seems clear: The Orioles desperately need to get to August. The constant trade deadline rumors and speculation are wearing on everyone in that clubhouse and it will be nice to get this over with. At some point soon we’ll know who is coming and who is going and the Orioles can get on with their season and start to get on with they hope, eventually, a brighter future.

sidebar-Brach-white.jpgAfter he gave up a two-run homer to Randal Grichuk in the eighth yesterday and allowed three runs in 2/3 of an inning, right-hander Brad Brach was asked if trade speculation is impacting his pitching? He said it’s not, but he also has an ERA of 12.71 this month.

“When I am out there pitching, it’s the last thing I’m thinking about,” said Brach. “Obviously, it’s hard to avoid it right now. But when you are on the mound, it’s all about going out there and executing pitches. Any of the trade stuff is the furthest thing from my mind. So, it is no excuse. There are no excuses out there. Just gotta get the outs.”

But does it weigh on Brach when he is not in the game?

“I mean every once in a while,” he said. “But there really hasn’t been much said. Like I said, I need to pitch better if I want to go possibly and pitch for someone else. If I want to stay here, I’m not pitching well enough right now. So, it’s just one of those things. I have to grind through it and get better.”

Right-hander Andrew Cashner, the Orioles starting pitcher Sunday at Rogers Centre, has been traded twice in his career.

“Yeah I think it’s definitely frustrating any time your name is in the rumors just because it’s out of your control,” Cashner said. “You have no control over where you’re going. Guys have families. You feel like you’re out of the loop on a lot of that stuff. I think it’s a big sigh of relief when you are traded. You can just take a step back and take a deep breath and focus on baseball. It’s on the TV every day in the clubhouse, we hear it from y’all, we hear it from the internet. You just can’t get away from it. So it’s different.”

Said Orioles manager Buck Showalter: “It’s something I keep my eye on for every guy. I talked with Zach (Britton) today, kind of updated how he’s feeling and what’s going on with him. These guys are getting text messages from national writers. They’re constantly getting updates from their agents. It’s a different world we live in.

“He (Brach) understands what’s going on. We had a good talk the other day. I’ve broached the subject with all the guys whose names are out there, so I don’t think anybody knows exactly what they’re feeling and what effect it has or doesn’t have. If somebody trades for Brad, they’re going to get a good pitcher.”

Showalter was asked if one or two bad outings can hurt trade value for a pitcher?

“The eye is in the beholder, right? It’s more about track record and health. That’s the way I used to look at it. A change of scenery is always really good for people, too. If you’ve got enough ability, good ability, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter.”

As the Orioles transition toward a younger roster, some players will be put into spots that they haven’t often been in during their time in the majors. So it was for lefty Tanner Scott yesterday. He struck out the side on 12 pitches Saturday and then gave up a two-run homer to Yangervis Solarte in the eighth yesterday which turned a 4-3 O’s lead into a 5-4 deficit and eventual loss.

The O’s threw Scott into the deep end at Rogers Centre and this time he didn’t get it done. But how do you know if a young player is ready for such a challenge if he never gets the chance?

Said Showalter about using Scott in that spot: “We’re juggling a lot of balls here. You’re juggling trades. You’re juggling development. You’re juggling trying to win games. All of the above. So, as good as he looked yesterday, you’ve got to pitch where guys are in pure ambush mode just swinging and collided with the ball. It’s more about what happened to set that situation up. But we shouldn’t have to be in that situation.”

When Showalter was asked if Britton were available on Sunday, he said: “Like I said, there’s a lot of different challenges I’m juggling here, OK? So, respect that. There’s a lot of things. He pitched yesterday and could have pitched the ninth inning today.”

So the Orioles are 28-72 at the 100-game mark of their season. After 100 games last year they were 48-52. As they get ready to host Boston tonight they are sitting with 28 wins on July 23. Last season they picked up win No. 28 on June 1.

The losing is probably not getting any easier to take - either for the Orioles players or their fans. But for now if we wonder if all the trade rumors have become distracting, the answer seems to be how can they not be?

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