Myriad O's thoughts: Wild Card plummet; Tillman's start; Papi's phone; Mancini's boom - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s thoughts: Wild Card plummet; Tillman’s start; Papi’s phone; Mancini’s boom

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Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Manager Buck Showalter said he doesn’t think being swept by the Boston Red Sox at home this week will snowball, and roll the Orioles directly away from postseason contention – even though Thursday’s loss allowed Detroit to jump over them for the second Wild Card spot.

“Not with this group. It is what it is as far as the competition. It’s like how did (the Red Sox) rebound when we went into their park and beat them a couple times this year? Or beat them here? How did the Yankees rebound when we swept them?” Showalter said. “That’s just something that people that haven’t been in that arena can’t get a feel for. And you want it to stop. Or do what it takes to make it stop. That’s the level you are dealing with here.”

There are two realities here:

One, the Orioles have shown nothing on this homestand – losing six of eight – to make anyone think that the snowball isn’t already heading downhill at an unstoppable rate.

It’s the first time all year that they are not in a playoff position – either leading the division or holding onto a Wild Card spot.

“I think you’ve got be realistic about where we are at this point after losing four. It’s kind of time to light a fire under our butt because those other teams playing for the Wild Card are right there,” closer Zach Britton said “You kind of need to look over your shoulder if you want to live in reality. You can’t just assume if we lose another game here and there, it’s OK. We need to find a way to win games. It’s plain and simple.”

Two, these Orioles are still in the thick of the Wild Card race and have three, seven-game winning streaks this season. We know they can get hot. And that’s the message they are trying to focus on.

“Believe it or not, we’re still in the hunt for the playoffs. The way people make it seem sometimes it feels like we’re 40 games under .500. That’s not the case. Disappointing? Absolutely. But we didn’t put the last nail in our own coffin or anything,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “We’re gonna show up, we’re gonna give the (Arizona Diamondbacks) everything we have the next three games. If we win three in a row, now we’re back maybe where we want to be. We still control our own destiny and that’s the main thing.”

Tillman’s rough start

When Chris Tillman has an outing like he did Thursday night, the first thing you think of is whether the Orioles’ most consistent starter is OK physically.

He says that’s not an issue.

“Positive. I felt great. Actually, I felt really good tonight, honest to god,” Tillman said. “That’s disappointing to feel that good and not get the team deep into the game or give the team a chance. It’s frustrating.”

Tillman doesn’t usually show such a lack of command like he did Thursday – five hits, three walks and three runs in 1 2/3 innings. He threw 63 pitches, only 37 for strikes, while getting just five outs.

You could pin a lot of his struggles on a patient and good hitting Red Sox team. And surely that’s part of it. But Tillman has dominated against Boston in his career, going 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 19 previous outings.

It was Tillman’s shortest start of the season, and his shortest overall since recording just four outs while surrendering six runs at Toronto on June 21, 2015.

The last time Tillman didn’t pitch into the third inning was on Aug. 20 against Houston at Camden Yards. He gave up six runs in that outing and then was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder bursitis.

On Thursday, he couldn’t locate his pitches. It’s nothing more than that, he said.

Papi celebration misses mark

I heard from plenty of people who weren’t happy that the Orioles planned a ceremony Thursday to acknowledge the retirement of Boston Red Sox slugger David “Big Papi” Ortiz.

Ortiz has been one of most despised players in Camden Yards history. He plays for a division rival. He kills the Orioles: 55 homers against the Orioles; 30 at Camden Yards. And he’s shown plenty of plate petulance over the years, complaining about strike zones and once using his bat to destroy the bullpen phone in the visitors’ dugout.

Showalter has joked in the past that the Orioles should give Ortiz a broken phone as a going-away present.

I thought it was just a joke. But the Orioles went through with it.

It was funny in a ‘he’s-not-laughing-awkward-kind-of-way.’

During the on-field ceremony – in which the center field video screen showed Ortiz homering several times against the Yankees and then the famous phone-bashing incident – center fielder Adam Jones presented Ortiz with the exact phone he destroyed on July 27, 2013.

Jones and Ortiz are friendly, and Big Papi smiled and laughed when Jones came out, but otherwise didn’t seem thrilled about the situation, He didn’t watch his phone-slam video on the big screen. And he left his gift on the grass as he walked off the field

Now, the Orioles also donated $10,000 to the World Pediatric Project to help critically ill children in Ortiz’s native Dominican Republic. And that was classy.

But maybe they just should have stopped there. Walked him onto the field, given him a check and walked him off. No video, no phone, a quick “here’s some money for your charity, now go back into the dugout.”

It was an uncomfortable few minutes. But I will say this: I’m sure many Orioles fans loved it – reminding Ortiz of one of his worst moments in Baltimore.

Mancini booms again

Tuesday night was a huge evening for Trey Mancini, the rookie who homered in the second at-bat of his big-league debut.

He homered again Thursday in his second major league start. He’s the first Orioles to have home runs as his first two big-league hits.

“He’s presented himself well. We like him, that’s why we think he has a chance to be a contributor down the road,” Showalter said. “He’s done well in a few at-bats. We’ll see how things go down the road. So far, so good.”

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. jannpls

    September 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Trey Mancini’s Home Runs – The only time an O’s fan could feel good all week !! The MASN pictures of his mother and family/friends………………………………..PRICELESS.

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 23, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Ortiz behavior is what it is. I mean, hell, Robbie Alomar spit in an Umpires face and we hung his picture up in the O’s Hall of Fame. What perplexes me is the inconsistency with which the PED enforcement industrial complex does its thing. Ortiz is in the Mitchell Report. He exhibits all the qualities of a PED user (big head, fits of anger, 40 year old season “career Renaissance” etc) Hes bosom buddies and ex teammates with Manny Ramirez, the guy who got as close as you can get to being banned from the game for roids. But while guys like Jeff Bagwell are held out of Cooperstown just for rumors of PED association, Bonds and Clemens are treated like members of ISIS, but this guy is feted in every ballpark like he just gave the “luckiest man on the face of the Earth” speech.

    • Dan Connolly

      September 23, 2016 at 9:33 am

      This is picking nits. But for the sake of accuracy, Bagwell’s not being “held out” of Cooperstown due to PED accusations. 72 percent voted for him last year. You need 75 to get in. Expect him to get in in 2017. Might some be holding out because of what you said? Sure. But that goes for most in this era. The real reason Bagwell isn’t in probably has to do w such a crowded ballot and him not be a slam dunk candidate. I know. Not your main point. But wanted to clear that up.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    September 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Also, how angry will we all be if, after all this drama, they take a dump against Toronto and New York and end up in 4th place? You think they are having a tough time selling tickets now? Yeesh…

    • Dan Connolly

      September 23, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Yeah. The organization needs to keep its fingers crossed.

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