TORONTO—For a while, the Orioles’ trade talk focused on Manny Machado. Since he became a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the speculation has shifted primarily to Zach Britton. In the background, though, there is talk about possible moves for Adam Jones and Brad Brach.
Jones was given the day off on Sunday while Britton stayed in the bullpen. But Brach had a rough eighth inning. Inheriting a 4-1 lead, Brach allowed a two-run home run to Orioles nemisis Randal Grichuk. After he left, Tanner Scott gave up a two-run shot to Yangervis Solarte.
Suddenly, what appeared to be a rare Orioles victory turned into their 72nd defeat of the season, 5-4 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brach was the subject of trade discussion a year ago. A report in The Los Angeles Times indicated the Dodgers, who acquired Machado and have expressed interest in Britton, could be interested in Brach, too.
“When I am out there pitching, it’s the last thing I’m thinking about,” Brach said of the trade talks.
“Obviously, it’s hard to avoid it right now. But when you are on the mound, it’s all about going out there and executing pitches. Any of the trade stuff is the furthest thing from my mind. So, it is no excuse. There are no excuses out there. Just got to get the outs.”
Manager Buck Showalter has spent time talking with players who might be of interest to others. Brach is one of them, and it hasn’t helped his value that his ERA has rocketed to 4.97.
“Brad’s had his good times and some of the struggles,” Showalter said.
“Nobody cares more than him. Concern? It’s something I keep my eye on for every guy. I talked with Zach today, kind of updated how he’s feeling and what’s going on with him. These guys are getting text messages from national writers. They’re constantly getting updates from their agents. It’s a different world we live in.”
Brach, who has been unfailingly cooperative in his time with the Orioles, thinks about the reports when he’s not pitching.
“I mean, every once in a while,” Brach said. “But there really hasn’t been much said. Like I said, I need to pitch better if I want to possibly go pitch for someone else. If I want to stay here, I’m not pitching well enough right now. So it’s just one of those things. I have to grind through it and get better.”
Showalter wasn’t tempted to use Britton in the eighth inning when Brach was struggling. He used Scott, who could be a closer later this season, or next.
“We’re juggling a lot of balls here,” Showalter said. “You’re juggling trades. You’re juggling development. You’re juggling trying to win games.”
The Orioles have played 100 games, and are 28-72. Before the game, Showalter talked about the challenges he’s facing.
“There’s still nothing like a W to make everything seem better that day,” he said.
“In our situation, I’m never going to do something that stands in the way of our long-term commitment. That’s changed some. Some things that I and we will be doing that wouldn’t normally be done.”
One of those things is using Scott in crucial spots.
“He’s done it before,” Showalter said. “There are tight spots in the fifth inning, the sixth and the seventh. It was painful. Hopefully, he’ll learn from it.”
Andrew Cashner started after missing a turn with a neck injury and, since he hadn’t pitched in 11 days, was on a pitch count of 80, which he didn’t know.
Removed with two outs in the sixth, Cashner seemed poised to win his first game since May 21. Cashner hasn’t won in his last nine starts and, with the Orioles holding a three-run lead and Brach starting the eighth, it looked as if he had a strong chance for his third win this season.
Two years ago, Cashner was traded by San Diego to the Miami Marlins just ahead of the trade deadline. He knows what his teammates are facing.
“I think it’s definitely frustrating any time your name is in the rumors just because it’s out of your control,” Cashner said. “You have no control over where you’re going. Guys have families. You feel like you’re out of the loop on a lot of that stuff.
“I think it’s a big sigh of relief when you are traded. You can just take a step back and take a deep breath and focus on baseball. It’s on the TV every day in the clubhouse, we hear it from y’all, we hear it from the internet. You just can’t get away from it.”
Showalter knows that on July 31, when the deadline comes, things will loosen up for those who go, and for those who stay. He’s not worried about Brach.
“He’s strong. He understands what’s going on,” Showalter said. “We had a good talk the other day. I’ve broached the subject with all the guys whose names are out there, so I don’t think anybody knows exactly what they’re feeling and what effect it has or doesn’t have. If somebody trades for Brad, they’re going to get a good pitcher.”