The Orioles won two of three from the New York Yankees this weekend in a critical juncture of the season.
There’s your bright side. Your silver lining.
The reality is also this: The Orioles had a chance to sweep the Yankees and, instead, came out flat on Sunday afternoon with a lineup that was far superior to the rookie-laden group that New York manager Joe Girardi rolled out onto the Camden Yards field.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter often sits regulars on weekend day games, but he didn’t do that Sunday, not with a chance to step on the throat of the Yankees’ Wild Card chances and not with another day game looming Monday at Tampa.
But the Orioles didn’t respond in a 5-2 loss that certainly has to be mentioned in the obligatory “most lifeless performances of the season” category.
Afterward, Showalter said he doesn’t think there was an intensity letdown Sunday, or that his players were content with winning two of three from the Yankees.
“I understand how that may play during the season, because you’re just trying to win series. We’re trying to win games,” Showalter said. “You beat them twice and you’re trying to beat them a third time. We just didn’t have much offensively. It didn’t have anything to do with ‘that’s good enough.’ No. Our guys don’t come at it from that angle.”
It was hard to figure out which angle the Orioles were attacking Sunday. None of it worked.
Left-hander Wade Miley, the club’s biggest trade-deadline acquisition, walked the first two batters he faced and gave up three runs in the first. That, essentially, was the game.
The Orioles kept pushing Yankees’ starter Michael Pineda onto the ropes and continually walked away. They were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
In the first inning, they had two runners on and one out when Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis each struck out. In the fourth, they had two on and one out and Jonathan Schoop fanned and J.J. Hardy grounded out.
In the fifth, the bases were loaded with one out and the Orioles couldn’t just get a ball in the air to score a run. Steve Pearce struck out and Matt Wieters grounded out. They never threatened again.
Two runs were, at the least, set up by defensive miscues. Trumbo lost a ball in the sun in right field that led to a run in the ninth, and Manny Machado veered too far to his left and attempted to make a circus play – cutting off Hardy’s chance at shortstop — and failed to make a good throw that would have ended the third. A run scored on that play.
So, the Orioles were thorough Sunday.
They didn’t hit. They couldn’t contain a Yankees offense that featured five rookies and they didn’t play their usual brand of flawless defense.
We’ve seen them do this before and then bounce back. And they’ll need to again.
The Orioles are three games out of first and clinging to a tie with the Detroit Tigers for the second AL Wild Card spot. And now they head to Tampa Bay, Detroit and Boston for a nine-game road trip that could make or break this season.
“Win games. It’s real simple. We have to win games regardless of how we get there,” Showalter said. “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 and so on. It’s a pretty simple equation right now.”
The Orioles are heading to Florida after winning two of three against the Yankees. Or they’re going there following one of their most uninspired games of the season.
I guess it depends on your perspective.
“We had a great series against these guys. We took two of three games. That’s big this time of the year,” Davis said. “You can’t sit there and harp on the negatives. You got to move forward. I’m happy that we battled, proud of the way we battled, and we’ll keep going.”