Buck Showalter’s post-game press conferences are usually pretty similar.
A question about the starting pitcher, a pointed inquiry or two about a certain play or decision in the game, and some give-and-take with the Orioles manager, who often veers toward a different course while providing a few solid sound bites.
The detailed talk, the philosophy of things, is usually left for his pre-game conversations.
But Wednesday night, after the Orioles lost 5-1 to the Boston Red Sox and have now dropped five of seven on this crucial homestand, Showalter bit on a few of the questions about what’s going wrong right now.
“Our guys are really pushing. They’re pushing,” Showalter said. “Sometimes you can really want something too much and you can’t take that away from them. The want-to is always there for our guys and it can be a deterrent. You get into a situation like this where they know what’s going on with the math of the season. So it’s tough to say they don’t care, OK?”
The Orioles entered this series three games behind the Red Sox in the American League East. They had a puncher’s chance of grabbing the division crown if they could sweep the series or win three of four.
That wouldn’t be impossible, right? I mean, they did win two of three at Fenway last week, and their rotation was set up for Boston. And the Orioles are much better at home than on the road.
But the offense has scored just five runs in these three games. Now six games behind the Red Sox, the Orioles are in jeopardy of dropping out of a Wild Card spot as several teams are surging with 10 to play.
“We talk about it every day. When there’s more season left you know someone’s going to pay down the line,” Showalter said. “We’ve seen that. But when you’re in a situation like this, no one feels sorry for you. They want to step on your neck while you’re down. We did it to (Boston). Now they’re trying to do it to us. It doesn’t get any easier.”
Showalter’s news conference had a little pep talk aspect to it that it hasn’t had in recent days. Sort of, “I know it looks bad, but this isn’t over” kind of vibe.
It was strange because Showalter avoids those kinds of sentiments throughout the year. The eye is always on the prize and, on any given night, you can’t tell if his team is winning or losing, up 10 games or down 10 games, based on his comments.
But Wednesday night was a little different.
Wednesday night it seemed like Showalter was delivering a message to the media, to the fans, and maybe to his players.
In his own way, he was admitting that things may look bleak. But he also was stressing that the season isn’t over.
“We talked some today and they talk among themselves all the time. It’s a very look in the mirror team,” Showalter said. “I’m very proud of these guys. I’ve got a long memory. They’ll get it going here. If we can get in (the playoffs), I feel real good about this group. That’s what we’re trying to do.”