You want to know what the Orioles need to do to get to the playoffs?
Forget about starting pitching for a second. It’s going to be inconsistent, but I think they have enough to give their offense and bullpen a chance to win most nights.
What the Orioles need to do is what they did in the eighth inning Thursday night. With runners on second and third and no outs, J.J. Hardy and Michael Bourn each grounded out to the right side.
With each ground ball the Orioles scored a run, and closed within one, 7-6.
What the Orioles can’t keep doing is what they did in the fifth inning. Runners on second and third and no outs. Three wild swings and misses from Manny Machado, a foul pop from Mark Trumbo and a comebacker to the pitcher by Chris Davis.
They also had first and third with one out in the fourth and ninth innings and didn’t score a run. A double play ended the fourth and two strikeouts ended the game.
“It’s a tough loss because we fought back and had a chance there at the end, but we left a lot of opportunities out there today,’ Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. “But to have a chance there in the ninth inning, it’s all you can ask for.”
With all due respect to Wieters, who had a clutch, two-run single with two outs and the bases loaded in the first, they could have asked for more.
A key sacrifice fly or another grounder to the right side. Something, anything that could have scored one more run and pushed Thursday’s game into extra innings.
Overall, the Orioles were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-13 after Hardy’s RBI double in the first.
And that’s just not good enough in crunch time. No matter which way it is spun.
“There’s a lot of hindsight involved, but I try to dwell on the fact we were down three runs real quick and came right back,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We can go back and rehash every play and probably come up with a lot of things that could have tilted it one way or another. But it didn’t and we lost.”
Sure, there were plenty of reasons why the Orioles lost, including a rough outing by Yovani Gallardo.
But this game was incredibly winnable if the Orioles could have made one more productive out or had one more clutch single.
Home runs are great; they end up on highlight shows. But if the Orioles could have repeated what they did in the eighth inning – scoring two runs on outs – they could have added another important win in September.
Ultimately, that’s what counts.