Too lit­tle, too late

Next: piv­otal stretch on road, where wins have been hard to get Mi­ley’s rough first in­ning too much for Ori­oles to over­come

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Jon Me­oli By Jon Me­oli

Sun­day’s loss was or­di­nary in the con­text of the past five months of base­ball the Ori­oles have played. It was re­plete with missed of­fen­sive op­por­tu­ni­ties af­ter a start­ing pitcher put the team on the wrong path from roughly the mo­ment the na­tional an­them ended.

But few of those per­for­mances have come with a chance for a se­ries sweep on a beau­ti­ful af­ter­noon at Cam­den Yards. More of­ten, the Ori­oles’ woes have come on the road, where they’ve been among the league’s most puz­zling teams and where they’ll play their next nine games with To­day, 1:10 p.m. TV: MASN Ra­dio: 105.7 FM IN­SIDE Bench ad­di­tions, re­turn of key con­trib­u­tors has O’s feel­ing like a com­plete team AL EAST STAND­INGS Team W-L Toronto 77-59 Boston 76-60 Ori­oles 74-62 New York 70-65 Tampa Bay 58-77

Left-han­der Wade Mi­ley dug the Ori­oles a first-in­ning hole they had plenty of chances to emerge from, but the bat­ters couldn’t bail him out this time.

The Ori­oles lost, 5-2, in Sun­day’s se­ries fi­nale be­fore an an­nounced 31,161 at Cam­den Yards against the New York Yan­kees af­ter Mi­ley al­lowed three runs be­fore the Ori­oles came to bat.

“Wade gave up a cou­ple walks and a duck flare and then a ground ball that rolled through, and the next thing you know, we’re down 3-0,” man­ager Buck Showal­ter said.

their sea­son on the line.

Therein lies the prob­lem. As the pen­nant chase ratch­ets up, a team with a 29-37 road record will once again try for con­sis­tency af­ter board­ing a plane in an­tic­i­pa­tion of 10 days away from home.

To po­si­tion them­selves prop­erly for their fi­nal home­s­tand, the Ori­oles will have to break a road spell in the most ba­sic fash­ion.

“Win games,” man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “It’s real sim­ple. We have to win games, re­gard­less of how we get there. I don’t care how it looks or how it hap­pens, we need to have more runs than them af­ter nine in­nings, or 10 or 11 or 12 or so on. It’s a pretty sim­ple equa­tion right now, whether we’re play­ing here or Tampa or De­troit or Boston.”

For 66 road games, it has not been that sim­ple. The Ori­oles’ trips seem to ac­cen­tu­ate their worst qual­i­ties. They’re down al­most a half-run per game away from Cam­den Yards (4.89 per game in Bal­ti­more, 4.45 on the road), and have an OPS 61 points higher at home (.801 to .740). On the pitch­ing side, it’s starker.Their home ERA is 4.00. On the road, it’s 4.93.

Com­pli­cat­ing this road trip is the com­pe­ti­tion: play­off con­tenders in De­troit and Boston, who would have shared the Ori­oles’ sta­tus as wild-card teams if the reg­u­lar sea­son ended Sun­day. The im­me­di­ate ob­sta­cle, though, is Tampa Bay.

The Rays have long been out of the hunt, but they’re com­ing off a se­ries win against the Amer­i­can League East-lead­ing Toronto Blue Jays.

“There’s never a time when they’re not en­gaged in some form,” Showal­ter said. “Tampa is in a spot, you can see how they’re play­ing right now. De­troit’s right there, and of course, Boston’s there. That’s why you do all the things that we do to be a part of this. To en­joy the com­pe­ti­tion, en­joy the fruits of their la­bor, our play­ers’ la­bor to get this chance.”

There hasn’t been much for the Ori­oles to en­joy on many re­cent trips. Since the All-Star break, the high­light was tak­ing two of three from the Gi­ants to sal­vage a .500 trip in 10 early-Au­gust games in Chicago, Oak­land, and San Fran­cisco. That trip also in­cluded a three-game los­ing streak against the Ath­let­ics.

The only win­ning road trip the Ori­oles can claim this sea­son was in May, when they swept a rain­short­ened, two-game trip in Min­nesota against a Twins team that has proven to be the league’s worst.

Com­ing home with a win­ning road trip would mean the Ori­oles’ 10-game home­s­tand in mid-Septem­ber would be a mean­ing­ful one. Then, if they’re lucky enough to be in con­tention in the fi­nal week of the sea­son, it’s back to Toronto and New York to try to clinch a play­off berth.

With se­ries com­ing against De­troit and Boston, where each game is es­sen­tially worth two in the play­off stand­ings, the pres­sure will be height­ened.

“We need to win,” left-han­der Wade Mi­ley said. “Ev­ery game on the road, we need to go out and play the game to win, and see where it takes us.”

Said first base­man Chris Davis: “One at a time. That’s got to be the men­tal­ity this time of the year. You can’t win them all at once. You got to go one at a time.”

PA­TRICK SMITH/GETTY IM­AGES

Ori­oles starter Wade Mi­ley gave up three runs Sun­day be­fore the Ori­oles came to bat. “The first in­ning, that hurts and puts the team on the heels and makes it tough to catch up,” Mi­ley said. He has a 7.15 ERA with a 1.68 WHIP with the Ori­oles.

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