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
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.”
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.