ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Caleb Joseph was disgusted. He’s the third most senior member of the Orioles, behind Adam Jones and Chris Davis, and he’s watched the team he joined in 2014 come apart.
Joseph knew once the July trades were made, it would be a challenge, but after the Orioles lost for the eighth time in nine games on this road trip, 8-3, to the Tampa Bay Rays, the veteran catcher had some points to make.
The loss pushed the Orioles to 41-102. The team will have to win 15 of its remaining 19 games to avoid its worst season.
This weekend, the Orioles were outscored, 32-10. Only two errors were listed on the scoreboard, but there were countless miscues.
“It’s one thing if you’re playing clean games that you can see everybody kind of improving, and you can see guys moving in the right direction and kind of taking advantage of opportunities, but that’s just not what we’re seeing,” Joseph said.
“It’s extremely disheartening when you kind of play this sloppy game, extra bases, missed coverages, missed execution on all kinds of different things. It’s tough for a guy that’s been here for a number of years; it’s quite a change. But we’ve got to pull it together. This is an opportunity to take advantage of some time for these young guys and even the older guys, to get some stuff ironed out, and we’re not doing it and we’re wasting time, we’re wasting opportunity to turn this thing around in terms of the rebuild.
“These are valuable moments to start making adjustments and figuring out how to do things correctly. We keep making similar mistakes over and over and over, and it’s just not going to cut it.”
Joseph doesn’t like what he’s seeing.
“It’s stuff that, it’s fixable, a lot of it is mental, and even physical issues that we know we can fix,” Joseph said. “It’s not like it’s a lost cause — there’s tons of talent in here. It’s just time for this talent to start showing itself. …In spurts it has, and we’ve seen it.
“They always talk about in hockey, put together a full 60 minutes. They can play 55 minutes and if they stink for five it’s over. We’ve got to put together a full nine-inning game, period. How many times have we seen it this season where we’ve put in a full nine innings of good, crisp clean Baltimore-style game? The games we’ve been known to play. It just hasn’t happened. Forget the home runs, forget all that stuff. Play a good, clean game and see where we are after that.”
Showalter takes longer view
Manager Buck Showalter stopped looking at the standings a long time ago.
There are 19 games remaining in his dreadful season, and 13 are against the four teams with the best records in the American League (Boston, Houston, New York and Oakland). Six games on the upcoming nine-game homestand are against non-contenders: Chicago and Toronto. The Orioles recorded their only three-game sweep of the season last month against the Blue Jays.
It looked as if Sunday’s game might be different when Ryne Stanek, who opened the game for Tampa Bay, walked Cedric Mullins, Joey Rickard and Jonathan Villar to start the game, though Mullins was thrown out stealing.
“That stolen base is probably not there,” Showalter said. “I’m going to let these guys run so they can learn from these things. That’s a bag we should probably stay there for.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash yanked Stanek, who has opened four games against the Orioles, and was one of eight pitchers used in the 10-5 Tampa Bay win Saturday.
Yonny Chirinos followed with 6 1/3 innings, holding the Orioles scoreless until he allowed three runs in the seventh.
The Orioles could be headed for 115 losses—maybe more—based on the schedule. Although that wouldn’t be the worst in major league history, it would be the worst since Detroit recorded a 43-119 mark in 2003.
Those Tigers turned things around quickly and were in the World Series by 2006, though few of the players from the 119-loss team were still with them.
Showalter, who has managed 20 seasons in the majors, has had some poor teams, including the expansion 1998 Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost 97 games in their first season. Showalter does have concern that this season could affect some of his team’s young players.
“You’ve heard me talk a lot about spring and fall being a great fooler,” Showalter said. “You can actually make a lot of mistakes on players negatively in something like this. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. It’s never as good as it seems, somewhere in between that. Instead of casting a negative blanket over everything, there’s some quality. You’ve got to keep that in mind. You really do. It’s something you look for.
“Everybody’s morale is challenged. Your whole life, you’ve lived in an arena where you’re competing and trying to win a game …I t’s something that you have to be, not sensitive to, but at least be aware of. I call it a negative feeding frenzy and a positive feeding frenzy. You’ve got to be careful about drinking too much Kool-Aid on either side.”
Rogers 2018 finale?
Josh Rogers started for the third time since he was recalled from Norfolk. Rogers, who was acquired as part of the Zach Britton trade with the New York Yankees, allowed six runs in just 1 1/3 innings. Brandon Lowe, a University of Maryland alum, hit a three-run home run in the five-run first. Mallex Smith stole home as part of a double steal in the second, the first time a Ray stole home since July 3, 2012.
In three starts, Rogers is 1-1 with an 8.49 ERA.
“It’s pretty unfortunate because I’ve had two pretty OK outings starting my career off and trying to build off those,” Rogers said. “This will sink in and it’ll be a long offseason thinking about this one, but just taking away the positives of the experience of being here so far. It’s a learning experience and it’s a great opportunity here and I’m excited about it.”
Jones sits again
Adam Jones did not play in the three-game series. On Saturday, Jones said that he understood why the Orioles weren’t playing him, and he had no hard feelings. In the first two games of the series, 28-year-old John Andreoli started in left and Rickard, who is 27, in right. Jace Peterson played left on Sunday, and Andreoli pinch-hit for him.
In the series, Andreoli was 2-for-7 with five strikeouts.
Rickard, who was drafted from the Rays’ organization as a Rule 5 selection in December 2015, was 4-for-12 this weekend. Rickard hit .421 with four home runs and 17 RBIs against Tampa Bay this season. Overall, Rickard is hitting .244. He has four homers and six RBIs against teams other than the Rays.
Jones is expected to play Tuesday when the Orioles begin a three-game series against Oakland at Camden Yards.